Apple 'slap wrap' patent fuels iWatch rumour

A 'slap wrap' flexible screen patent filed by Apple has added fuel to rumours about an iWatch.

Apple filed a patent in 2011 for a wearable "slap wrap" device with a flexible screen, suggesting it has at least been experimenting with the design the rumoured iWatch.

The patent application filed with the US Patents and Trademarks Office in August 2011 is for a "bi-stable spring with flexible display" that can be positioned in a flat or curled state, much like a slap bracelet with the additional capacity for two-way communications between it and a portable electronic device.

The application, dug up by Apple Insider, contains drawings of several configurations of the concept, covering both rigid and flexible versions.

Apple patent
Image: US Patent Office/Apple

While recent reports about a curved glass face iWatch partially align with details in the application, the only actual mention of a watch is in reference to the potential use of kinetic energy as a backup power source — one of the key considerations behind launching such a device.

The most useful trait of the slap wrap bracelet design, according to Apple, is that it's easy to put on and stays conveniently in place. The design is very different to some recent mockups of what it could look like based on earlier patents that also suggested an iWatch.

The description suggests a touch screen wearable "video" device designed to work in conjunction with a separate device, such as an iPhone, to form a "co-operative electronic system" that would allow the wearer to remotely control that device via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

"With a touchscreen user input a user can accomplish a number of different tasks including adjusting the order of a current playlist, and reviewing a list of recent phone calls. A response to a current text message can even be managed given a simple virtual keyboard configuration across the face of the flexible display.

"At a width of a few inches the display can function to temporarily view and manipulate the screen of the portable electronic device it is in communication with."

The discovery of the patent follows a Bloomberg report claiming that Apple had corralled 100 engineers and marketing managers around the rumoured product, and comes as Google ramps up its work on Project Glass .