Samsung Eyeing a Smartwatch Display Beamed on the Back of Your Hand

A recent Samsung patent application envisions a tiny projector in a smartwatch that can project a device display image onto anything.

Samsung, patent application, smartwatches, wearables, display screens, projected image, display technologies

Today's Samsung Gear S2 smartwatches display their information and alerts to users via a small display right on the face of the smartwatch, but that could change in the future based on a recent patent application submitted by the company.

The 28-page Samsung patent application describes a wearable device that includes a built-in "image projector" that can be controlled by the user to display its on-screen image on any nearby surface, including the back of the user's hand when the watch is on their wrist. The patent application, which Samsung filed on June 4, 2015, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and published on May 5, 2016, describes a process in which the on-device screen can be enlarged by an integrated projector to make it easier for the wearer to read the screen's contents.

The system could include a camera, a virtual user interface and a processor that can detect the target area for the projected display, which would combine to give smartwatch wearers a new way to view the data from their devices, according to the patent application.

The idea for the alternative screen display comes from broader requirements from customers who want new devices and technologies to use in their everyday lives, the application states. For those users, new ideas in wearable displays are needed to find innovative ways of presenting information to users, the application continues.

The application describes a design that could allow users to control the virtual screen by tapping the virtual buttons produced by the image projector, or by using gestures to activate functions.

The designs, of course, are only a patent application at this time and are not finalized or ready for production, but they do offer an intriguing glimpse at concepts that Samsung might be interested in for the future. This technology could also potentially be used in other consumer and business products that use screen displays as well.

Samsung's Gear S2 smartwatch, unveiled last September, features a circular watch face design reminiscent of classic timepieces, as well as a custom user interface and a rotating bezel. The smartwatches also include home and back buttons to allow access to notifications and applications, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The 1.2-inch circular screen has 360-by-360 resolution (302 pixels per inch) and is powered by the latest Tizen operating system and an optimized 1GHz dual-core processor. The $299.99 smartwatch also includes 4GB of internal storage and 512MB of memory, as well as a 250mAh battery that the company claims will last two to three days.

In January, Samsung unveiled two fancier editions of the Gear S2 Classic smartwatch, this time encasing the devices in 18-karat rose gold or platinum finishes to give them distinctive looks aimed at fashion-conscious consumers. The rose gold version of the Gear S2 classic has an ivory leather band, while the platinum version has a black leather band.

In December, reports circulated that Samsung was potentially looking at another interesting innovation, liquid-cooling systems, for its then-upcoming Galaxy S7 smartphones, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The latest Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge models didn't include liquid cooling when they debuted in March, but it is possible that it could appear in a future version.

Liquid cooling is interesting for smartphones because it can lower the operating temperatures of the devices to increase performance. Other companies have used such technology in some of their mobile phones, including Microsoft's Lumia 950 XL and Sony's Xperia Z5 phones.