Is this the shape of Samsung's smartwatch plans?

US and South Korean trademark and patent applications could be providing a window into Samsung's smartwatch project.

Drawings from an South Korean patent application suggest Samsung's smartwatch could have a flexible screen that wraps round the wearer's wrist. Image: Samsung

Samsung's plans for a smartwatch have just become clearer, thanks to a recent US trademark application and some images from earlier South Korean patent filings.

The US application, which was filed late last month, is for the registration of the name Samsung Galaxy Gear as a trademark. Included in the document is a 72-word description of the devices to which the new name could apply.

It details the possible products as: "Wearable digital electronic devices in the form of a wristwatch, wristband or bangle capable of providing access to the internet and for sending and receiving phone calls, electronic mails and messages."

Read this

Before the iWatch: A history of smartwatches, in pictures

Tech giants have been trying to get the smartwatch right for nearly two decades. Take a tour starting with the earliest smartwatches right up to the very latest LTE models -- and all the weird and wonderful in between.

Read More

The description concludes by saying the devices are "for the wireless receipt, storage and/or transmission of data and messages and for keeping track of or managing personal information; smartphones; tablet computers; portable computers".

Korean website Moveplayer has published several images, apparently from patent filings made at the Korean Intellectual Property Office since the start of 2013.

The images show three variations on a smartwatch design based on a curved screen almost the full width of the band that curls around the wearer's wrist.

Microsoft, Google, Samsung and Sony have built smartwatches for years — with limited success. These smartwatches tend to function as a second screen for a smartphone — for example, offering a way of reading emails or other updates while the phone stays in the user's pocket.

But as the smartphone market becomes saturated, tech companies are looking at new form factors, and this trend, along with the success of the Kickstarter-financed Pebble smartwatch — and suggestions that Apple is also working on such a device — have reignited interest in smartwatches.

Further reading