Samsung is known for experimenting with its high-end products, and this experimentation should be an industry standard for tech companies that want to continue to fulfil consumer expectations of said companies (it can be said that few in the industry actually experiment, unfortunately). The company is always filing patents, some that come to fruition quickly, some that arrive to market in tangible products later, and some that never come to fruition at all.
When it comes to smartwatches, the industry has turned from square displays and form factors to circular displays, but this seems to be a given now for smartwatches to succeed in the market. And yet, circular displays are standard now, nothing new but expected, not cutting-edge but just “present.” And this means that the push to increase smartwatch adoption will mandate finding new ways to make smartwatches appealing in the future. The most experimental company in mobile tech (Samsung) is up to the challenge, as the Korean giant has had a patent published by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that considers the idea of a smartwatch with a wristband display and an inbuilt camera with optical zoom.
First, the wristband featuring a flexible display could become a secondary display for Samsung, though we’ve seen Samsung file patents pertaining to smart straps that navigate screens through motion (pulling the strap up or down moves the screen, for example), or a secondary display on the rotating bezel of its Gear smartwatch at some point down the line. In this case, though, Samsung would allow users to access an array of options (music, alarm, email, gallery, settings, etc., right from the wristband).
This makes sense, seeing that some consumers may not want to rotate the bezel of the device all the time or swipe across the screen and could tap on the wristband to access something. Smartwatch maker Fossil was experimenting with stationary settings on the display on its Misfit Vapor watch (running its own software) before the company decided to go with Android Wear for its smartwatch platform of choice; in Samsung’s case, the company sees the wristband as another place to plant a secondary display.
Another use case pertains to smartwatch owners with LTE-equipped smartwatches such as the Gear S3 Frontier and Gear S3 Classic LTE who want to have phone functions, including camera capabilities, on their smartwatch to take photos when their phone is out of reach or dead.
A smartwatch camera is also part of the equation, which seems interesting considering that Samsung removed the smartwatch camera as an idea in the Gear S in late 2014, after having implemented smartwatch cameras in the Galaxy Gear (2013) and the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo (early 2014). The camera included in this newly published patent (titled “Wearable and the Control Method”) isn’t just the same cameras as that of the Galaxy Gear; it also comes with optical zoom, allowing the camera to protrude from the smartwatch display when necessary for taking photos.
We don’t know if this smartwatch/camera idea will ever arrive to market in a finished product, but it appears as though Samsung may consider bringing cameras back to smartwatches. And, considering how good its smartwatch cameras were in the Galaxy Gear, Gear 2, and Gear 2 Neo, that contemplation has considerable merit.