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Patent, Prototype Shows Nokia Working on Smartwatch

A smartwatch patent filed by Nokia published on Thursday revealed that the company is joining the likes of Sony, Samsung, Apple, Google and a number of others either producing or currently selling their own solutions in an emerging wearable tech market. Called "Multi-Segment Wearable Accessory," this patent was filed in August 2012, long before Microsoft announced its intent to purchase Nokia's devices and services arm.

According to the patent, Nokia is describing a wearable gadget with multiple, segmented displays that are detachable. In a video demo provided to Engadget, the smartwatch features six screens that are on and active. In one scenario, the user wanted to expand the information that was displayed on the screen facing up, so he held that screen down with an index finger and swiped down with his thumb on the screen below, expanding the first screen's content.

MORE: What is a Smartwatch?

This prototype can not only expand, but swap by taking the index finger and swiping to the left on the top screen, and swiping to the right with the thumb on the screen below, thus swapping the data on those two screens. Data can also be copied across two screens and instantly expanded to fill all six screens. With a shake of the wrist, all six screens revert back to providing their own individual data.

The design is interesting, as the frame allows the user to remove all six segments if needed. Without the segments, the frame looks like a Ferris Wheel with elastic cords so that it can fit around the hand. On their own, the segments look like little TVs until they're snapped into place. Question is, will users want the bottom screen knowing that it could possibly get scratched from table corners and so on?

Here's what the patent abstract describes:

A method, apparatus and computer program product are provided to facilitate the use of a multi-segment wearable accessory. In this regard, methods, apparatus and computer program products are provided for controlling and, in some instances, interacting with a multi-segment wearable accessory. Each screen presented on or capable of being presented on the display of a segment of the multi-segment wearable accessory may be considered a virtual segment, and the number of virtual segments may be greater than the number of physical segments of the accessory. One or more of the virtual segments may be associated with one or more of the segments in an overlaid configuration, such that a topmost virtual segment is presented for viewing while another virtual segment lies below the topmost virtual segment, hidden from the user's view. A virtual segment may be replaced with presentation of another virtual segment in response to rotation of the accessory.

The project is actually codenamed "Facet," and the team has an academic paper listed here.

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