Two patent filings at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office show that Apple is at least considering future Apple Watches with round displays. Patents number 20160351107 and 20160351098 are both for an “electronic device having a display with curved edges.” The goal: “provide improved displays such as circular displays or other displays with curved edges.”
Here’s a summary of the patents: “A display may have an array of pixels. The array of pixels may have a shape such as a circular shape or other shape with a curved edge. Display driver circuitry may supply data signals to the pixels using folded vertical data lines and bisected horizontal gate lines. Each folded vertical lines may have a first segment in a left half of the array and a second segment in a right half of the display. Curved coupling segments in an inactive area of the display may be used in joining the first and second segments. Display driver circuits may be provided in top and bottom portions of the inactive area to supply data to respective top and bottom portions of the array. Gate driver output buffers may have different strengths in different rows of the array.”
Apple has also applied for another Apple Watch-related patent (number 20160349803): “detecting the limb wearing a wearable electronic device.” According to Apple, a processing device (think smartwatch) can be adapted to determine which limb of the user is wearing the electronic device based on one or more signals received from at least one position sensing device.
Knowing whether an electronic device is worn on the left or right limb can be helpful or necessary information for some portable electronic devices or applications. For example, it can be necessary to know whether the electronic device is worn on a left or right limb when the electronic device includes one or more biometric applications, such as an electrocardiography application or a medical measurement or diagnostic application.
Technically, the patent could apply to devices other than an Apple Watch, as they mention that it could be worn on a limb of a user, such as on the wrist, arm, ankle, or leg. However, a smartwatch seems the most likely candidate for such technology.
Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.