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It’s the tech innovation that seemingly no one asked for: curved displays on smartphones. In Korea, Samsung and LG have each released smartphones with curved displays—the Round and the G Flex, respectively—and it seems likely that they’ll be making their way to other territories sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, reports came out in November that Apple, too, was working on its own curved version of the iPhone, and a post on CNET today reports that the company has been awarded a patent for a unique way of creating a thinner and stronger curved display.

The patent was filed back in 2010, so it’s not totally clear—to me, at least—how or if this process differs from the ones being employed by Apple’s competitors. It’s entirely possible that this patent could lead to another brand new round of infringement lawsuits between Apple and Samsung, or perhaps there’s more than one way to curve a smartphone. Regardless, what interests me about this patent isn’t so much the fact of what it is, but rather the applications for which Apple says it could be used.

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According to the filing, the curved display could be “incorporated within a computing system,” “a touch sensor panel,” “a display device,” as well as a “touch mouse device.” Considering that Apple already makes a computer mouse that features a translucent, button-free interface that responds to touch-based gestures and motions, it seems like a no-brainer that future iterations will sport the kind of curved display described in this patent.

And, of course, we can take all this a step further and think about the ways a flexible display can be incorporated into the long-rumored iWatch. Even though I have little interest in a curved or even bendable smartphone, I think a curved smartwatch would be a perfect application of that technology. You know, because our wrists are curved. The September hiring of former Nike designer Ben Shaffer points to Apple’s continuing emphasis on unique and trend-setting design. As intriguing as LG and Samsung’s curved smartphones might be, the latter may have missed an actual opportunity by eschewing the curved display tech for its Galaxy Gear smartwatch. When Apple finally brings its iWatch to market, don’t be surprised to see that it features a curved display. At this point, I’d be far more surprised if it didn’t.

 


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