A snappy approach to low-cost wearable displays

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

Marketed as the SnapWatch to surf on the overhyped smartwatch wave, the wristband comes with a bistable electrochromic display developed by Swedish supplier Acreo.

On its website, the company mentions prototypes that incorporate watch, music replay and message display. From the mechanics disclosed, it looks like the display would be controled through two push-buttons situated at one extremity of the steel snapband together with the encapsulated electronics. ­


An exploded view of the SnapWatch mechanical assembly.


No mentions are made about connectivity or interactivity with any other device, but the novelty worth patenting according to SnapWatch‘s CEO Vincent Douglas is this fairly low-cost combination of a bistable and flexible display with a bistable steel snap band (and their integration with a control unit into a wrist-band form factor).

Bistable, mechanically and display-wise.


The company has secured its intellectual property with several patents granted in the UK, the USA, China and Europe and is looking for partners with application ideas to either license it or to purchase the IP altogether.

I personally don’t see such a device compete head-to-head with current smartwatch offerings that typically feature fairly good resolution full-colour touch-screens and often Bluetooth Smart connectivity.


But combined with NFC capability, this approach to wearable flexible displays could certainly find interesting applications as a very low-cost and very low power smart wrist-band akin to ticketing, offering ID, timing and schedule  features for festivals and events of all sorts. It may even find its way as a fancy watch, or into some fitness or medical applications (add some combo MEMS sensors to it).

As a watch, its flexible display and snappy feature would certainly compete well with similar fashion offerings such as the colourful silicone-wrapped Slap Watch, featuring interchangeable clock faces mounted on a spring coil bracelet.


SnapWatch’s CEO, Vincent Douglas adds the wrist-band display could be used as a secondary status display, for example in the medical sector. Because the electrochromic display doesn’t have a very long lifetime, Douglas gave us his vision of a very low cost replacement display band, something that could plug into the control unit that the end-user would keep.

The control unit could be updated for different uses or programmed with unique identifiers, while the display could be interchanged after every 500 or 1000 hours.

This could be a particularly low cost item if both the display and the drivers can be printed, something that the company is exploring with a possible partnership with Cambridge-based firm Plastic Logic.


Related articles:

Soligie, Acreo team to commercialize PaperDisplay

E-paper display market to hit $600 million in 2010, says analyst

Roll-up digital screens near reality for all

MediaTek goes wearable, Chinese and cheap

Opinion: Powering wearable devices – watch out for safety first


Linked Articles
eeNews Europe