The Apple Watch family thus far have rectangular-faced members only, but may soon get a round-faced sibling. A new patent, awarded to Apple by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), suggests that the company is working on ways to produce a circular screen for future generations of the Apple Watch. Originally filed on January 7, 2016, the patent is credited to Yu Cheng Chen, Tsung-Ting Tsai, and Shih Chang Ghang.
Apple has been granted a patent by the USPTO for an "Electronic device having a display with curved edges" on Tuesday. The patent describes ways to construct a circular display and discusses how information would be displayed and presented on it. According to the patent document, the screen can be used on a variety of devices. The patent talks of its potential use in smartwatches, headphones, eyeglasses, navigation devices, cellular telephones, media players and TV displays. However, the most obvious use of the technology would be a future smartwatch, and I'd be surprised if that’s where it didn’t appear first.
"Pixel arrays often have rectangular shapes. However, rectangular pixel arrays will not fit efficiently within a device having a circular shape. Circular displays can have bottleneck regions in which signal lines become crowded, leading to inefficient use of display area. It would, therefore, be desirable to be able to provide improved displays such as circular displays or other displays with curved edges," the patent reads.
Round-faced smartwatches are of course not a new concept, with a number of Wear OS (formerly Android Wear) devices using circular OLED screens. Samsung's Tizen OS based Gear smartwatches also sport circular displays, and are pretty cool at it. So it's very likely that Apple also takes a bold new step of producing a circular-screen Apple Watch, and gain a competitive edge over its rivals.
That said, it's just a patent, and more often than not, companies never commercialize these patented concepts. So it's entirely possible that this patented technology from Apple also meets the same fate.