Image source: LetsGoDigital

IBM awarded patent for a tablet you can fold into a smartphone & smartwatch

IBM has patented an electronic device with a multi-fold display. The flexible electronics inside allow you to morph it into a tablet, smartphone and even a smartwatch.

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We’ve seen a number of foldable phones and tablet concepts make it to retail product stage. IBM wants to go a step further with a device that has the right screen size for every occasion.

The patent was applied for in 2016 and approved and made public last month by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It is registered under the name “Variable display size for an electronic display device” and number 10,319,311 B2.

It is only now, though, that the concept has been brought to life thanks to Dutch-based LetsGoDigital. They used the information in the patent filing to come up with stunning 3D renders of what the device might look like in real-life.

ibm awarded patent for a tablet you can fold into a smartphone smartwatch - IBM awarded patent for a tablet you can fold into a smartphone & smartwatch
Image source: LetsGoDigital

In its most compact form, the yet-to-be named gizmo looks like a smartwatch. Adding to the visual appeal is the fact that no frame border is visible.

You can wear the thing on your wrist although the watch case is slightly thicker than usual. This is because it has four compartments, each of which houses 2 screens.

In total there are 8 individual displays. They can be taken out of the housing and have the ability to work independently of each other. The display seams are minimal, so the content can be displayed continuously.

ibm awarded patent for a tablet you can fold into a smartphone smartwatch 1 - IBM awarded patent for a tablet you can fold into a smartphone & smartwatch
Image source: LetsGoDigital

Your wrist watch screen too small? Not a problem. Simply slide the extra screens out of the housing. When using four the device morphs into a smartphone. The other display parts remain hidden in the housing.

Planning on watching a movie? That should work well on a tablet computer. Unfold all eight screens and you’ve got yourself one. Now you’ll need to use both your hands to navigate device.

ibm awarded patent for a tablet you can fold into a smartphone smartwatch 2 - IBM awarded patent for a tablet you can fold into a smartphone & smartwatch
Image source: LetsGoDigital

The patent does not specify if the unfolding is done manually, semi-automatically or automatically. In an ideal world a user would just press a button on the screen and the thing would magically morph into the device of your choice.

Mind you, this is just a patent. Whether it makes it into a real-world product is an entirely different matter. Many companies apply for patents which never make it to retail stage. We certainly hope this one does.

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