back to article What the CUFF? Nokia shows how a smartwatch really OUGHT to work

Boffins working for Nokia have knocked together a prototype smartwatch with six screens, and patented the ways in which one might use it should such a thing ever become technically practical. The Nokia Facet isn't a product, it isn't even a prototype, but the functional model lets Nokia engineers work out how one might …

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  1. The Axe

    Wrist action

    So lots of touching actions but nothing using the power of the wrist itself? I'm sure certain wrist actions could be made to do something useful.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wrist action

      You mean, apart from "shake to collapse all"? So there's an accelerometer in there somewhere.

  2. Piloti

    !!!!!

    I bloody love this..!!!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would be better if it was using curved screens.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Somebody missed the point.

      1. andreas koch
        Thumb Up

        @ JDX -

        He's right handed. The bracelet is worn on the left.

        That confused him. ;-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Seems like it would be even better with just one flexible screen. If you're going to try to figure out how to use futuristic hardware, you might actually want to consider what hardware will be available, not simply shrink the existing stuff.

      1. Paul Shirley

        Getting patents doesn't require considering 'what hardware will be available', just that you lock up the ideas before anyone can use them on their sexier hardware. And I've seen some really sexy wristband designs, with and without flexible screens in the last year. Those sexy designs just weren't shown doing more than responding to taps.

        This has to be one of the least attractive things I've seen for a long time though ;)

  4. Adrian Jones

    Interesting concept

    But if it doesn't beam me up to the Liberator, then I'm not interested.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: Interesting concept

      Have a thumbs-up - that was my first thought too (with a quick respray to a manky brown colour)

  5. Faye B
    Thumb Up

    Great potential

    I see great potential in this system, once the engineers have let go of it and the designers can mould it into something that people would like to wear. It really needs to be seen as jewelry with function rather than functionality strapped to the wrist. Curved screens and silver or gold casements, with lots of lovely rounded edges would transform this into something desireable. The multiscreen idea is also neat as it allows the user to select what to display without having to tap through menus. So a watch screen on one facet, with a twitter feed on a another facet and your email or calendar on another. Having all 6 facets as screens may not be necessary but at least three would be good; four if that expanding option proves useful. The other facets could be used for battery space and maybe a NFC transponder.

    1. dogged

      Re: Great potential

      rounded edges

      Oh dear.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Great potential

        Yeah, I was wondering why they needed six screens too, even as a 'test rig'. It's good to see people are testing some future concepts though.

        Apple are sitting on a patent that can allow a 'smartwatch' to look more like jewellery; the micro-perforated aluminium (like that used for the power LED on their wireless keyboards) combined with a capacitive sensor to detect deflections in the aluminium surface when touched. Obviously the patent made no mention of smartwatches, but it would allow an 'invisible' (when not in use) touch screen.

        In memory of Iain M. Banks: from The Player of Games, the bracelet modelled on an Orbital habitat.

    2. WhoaWhoa

      Re: Great potential

      "once the engineers have let go of it and the designers can mould it into something that people would like to wear"

      Hm.

      My immediate reaction was that engineers do stuff and then designers get out their box of coloured pencils, use them a bit, then try to take the credit for being "creative("s")".

      But I recognise that simplifications are just that. Reality is more complex.

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Great potential

      It's just a testbed. The bling will come later.

  6. EddieD

    I like that.

    Let's hope that Nokia manage to keep this one going.

  7. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Unimaginitive

    The bracelet features six screens, ...

    A true "how a smartwatch ought to work" would monitor your brainwaves and detect when you wanted to know the time, then stimulate the correct neurons with the required information.

    Anything less is barely an improvement on a 500 year-old fob watch.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Unimaginitive

      >Anything less is barely an improvement on a 500 year-old fob watch.

      It would be churlish of me to suggest that John Harrison made a bit of an improvement when your comment brought this to my attention:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhYoh3_JqnE

      The 'Pomander' timepiece from 1505.

    2. OrsonX

      Re: tension sheet

      If Apple can patent "a thing that might do a thing made out of a future like thing" then I'm pretty sure you can patent your neuronal timepiece.

      Sound a bit like a neural-lace/terminal combo mind, but I suspect Iain didn't patent it yet.

      1. OrsonX
        Unhappy

        Re: "yet"

        ouch.

        Stupid me.

      2. Pete 2 Silver badge

        Re: tension sheet

        > If Apple can patent ...

        Maybe I should submit a patent application for A method of ascertaining the current time using audio tokens and social interaction

        I.E. ask someone.

        (Though I'm unclear how I'd go about enforcing the patent and collecting royalties. More thought needed.)

    3. WhoaWhoa

      Re: Unimaginitive

      "Anything less is barely an improvement on a 500 year-old fob watch."

      True.

      And I guess we're barely an improvement on 2,000,000 old humans.

  8. Wyrdness

    Is the iWatch a bluff?

    Of course, it's possible that Apple isn't planning on making a smart watch at all. They could just be spreading rumours so that competitors rush to spend their R&D budgets on wrist-wear, whilst Apple do something entirely different. I doubt that anything would please Apple more than to have competitors with warehouses full of unsold watches, whilst they smugly clean up with the iPoo smart-loo (or somthing).

    1. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Re: Is the iWatch a bluff?

      On the other hand it might be that Apple feel forced into producing something in this line because otherwise they risk an unexpected hit product drawing people away from their 'ecosystem'.

      -

      Nokia's demo there looks like something that would suit the Windows Phone tile setup (or Android widgets) quite well. Still think the problem with all of these products is battery life and that isn't going to change very much in the near future. Even the Pebble needs weekly charging which is not brilliant.

    2. fandom Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Is the iWatch a bluff?

      Yes, they are all going the feel very silly when Apple release their iWatch Tv set.

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Is the iWatch a bluff?

      >Of course, it's possible that Apple isn't planning on making a smart watch at all.

      If Apple have decided that it isn't worth their while developing a 'smartwatch', they still would have done 'due process' to reach that conclusion. That 'due process' would be in part be research into the 'smartwatch' concept.

      Take that little iPod Nano, for example: There would have been a considered reason, perhaps commercial or technical, why they didn't include Bluetooth and thus allow it to work with iPhones.

  9. Avatar of They
    Thumb Up

    Goes to show.

    Nokia had such great potential. (N900 not withstanding)

    But MS have it now :-

    So each screen will be a Windows 8 tab (tile, hub, square - whatever they are called nowadays)

    It will have a battery life of 20 minutes.

    It will need AV

    ...and the fact it will record and download everything to the NSA, and probably only work if plugged into your phone like Samsung.

    With required patches every day.

    Still someone in Nokia had brains and lots of skill / talent. They will move to some startup and it will get off the ground as a kickstarter, or get used somewhere by someone with cash who see a good idea. Future looks hopeful.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Goes to show.

      MS spend loads of money on wacky "out there" R&D, stuff that might be useful in a decade or more. I guess you didn't know that.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Goes to show.

      It appears to be from Nokia Research Centre in California.

      https://mailman.stanford.edu/pipermail/hci-student-jobs/2012q1/000324.html

      Under the agreement between MS and Nokia it might be considered a mobile device and have gone to MS or as it's not an Asha or a Lumia device it might have stayed with Nokia. Hopefully the second.

    3. RyokuMas Silver badge

      Re: Goes to show.

      "It will need AV"

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/10/18/feature_mobile_security_malware/

      Open + market leader = greatest requirement for AV... or malware defence, at least.

    4. Herer

      Re: Goes to show.

      not to forget of course that a wrist watch with ms minutes code will be particularly accurate at measuring time...

      .. the time is currently 19:25... 19:10.... 20:02... 19:25.... 18:59....

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Goes to show.

      So rather like Android then?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A lot of positive comments for this...

    Am I the only one who saw this and though for a second it was April fools day? IMHO it seems rubbish.

    Poor UX, awkward and rather pointless. Why would anyone want this?

    Surely a curved, flexible screen (which is already technically possible) which bends around your wrist by 180 degrees would be far better. It would have an unbroken screen, and allow you to see information in better detail. If it was AMOLED it would use much battery just for showing small segments either.

    As for "patented the ways in which one might use it should such a thing ever become technically practical". Does anyone not see anything amiss with that statement?

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: A lot of positive comments for this...

      This is exactly why Apple are in no rush. They will sit and wait to see what people are doing and then take all the best bits and blend them into a slick, seamless package which everyone will fawn over.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A lot of positive comments for this...

        But people will still hold it wrong!

      2. DougS Silver badge

        Re: A lot of positive comments for this...

        It also may be that while it appears "Apple is in no rush", they might have a mostly finished product but they're waiting on technology advancements to make it possible. Sort of like how they had a finished concept for the iPad back in 2002, before they even started working on the iPhone, but the tech available to them then wouldn't have made it possible to build.

        Maybe they're waiting on something that will help battery life. Maybe they want to make it from Liquid Metal but still haven't work out the kinks on mass production with it yet. Maybe they have a form factor decided on but can't fit all the bits they want to include in that amount of space with today's tech.

        The watches coming out now all seem to have various compromises, as most companies think it is more important to be early to market. Apple is willing to be late to the market if they think their product is the one people really want. We'll see if that's true (assuming they ever do release a watch)

      3. WhoaWhoa

        Re: A lot of positive comments for this...

        "This is exactly why Apple are in no rush. They will sit and wait to see what people are doing and then take all the best bits and blend them into a slick, seamless package which everyone will fawn over."

        ... which a vocal minority will fawn over, and others will chuckle over.

        (cf. other iThings).

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: A lot of positive comments for this...

      Uhm, it's a test rig. Says that right in the article.

      Think of it as a breadboard for interface control testing.

      So no, it's not pretty.

  11. JDX Gold badge

    Virtual segments

    Finally, a practical way to demonstrate a spin-1/2 particle in real life.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When you have nothing left

    show stuff that's not currently possible. There are plenty of idiots that will forgo buying your competitors products and wait eagerly on vaporware.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: When you have nothing left

      Yeah, having the world's most technically advanced and innovative smartphone is 'nothing'.

  13. Timbo
    Big Brother

    Great idea...

    I was a bit sceptical on seeing this at first, but at the very end, it showed all the screens as separate items, which could then be "installed" into a bracelet "holder".

    What struck me was that you could buy maybe one screen to begin with and then add others, depending on your needs and circumstances. Indeed, said screens could also be used in your car, at home/work or anywhere...and then clipped onto the bracelet, should you want to.

    So, this could prove to be quite a winner, as long as it's not too expensive.....lest the "great unwashed" might find good reason to relieve you of various assorted (expensive) screens.....

  14. Longrod_von_Hugendong

    Brought to you from the same...

    moron who decide windoze phone was the way to go.

    FFS - no wonder everyone copies Apple.

    1. JassMan Silver badge

      Re: Brought to you from the same...

      Sorry but I think you'll find that Apple look around to see what everyone else has done, add 2 of them together and patent that as something new - then sue the the arse off everone else. Prior art is not just about physical products.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Brought to you from the same...

      "moron who decide windoze phone was the way to go."

      That worked out quite well for them versus a dying platform they already had and versus Android that no one but Samsung makes any money off.

      They have ended up back in profit next quarter, with the option to sell to Microsoft, and top of the pile of the fastest growing, most efficient and most secure mobile OS in Windows Phone...

  15. Dick Pountain

    They seem to have left off the spikes

  16. Tom 35 Silver badge

    But

    I think it should be bright yellow, or lime green maybe. Pink even.

  17. Captain DaFt

    Am I the only one that wants a Wristlojackimator?

    Like the one Leela wore in Futurama?

    Fits conveniently on the wrist, but big enough to easily usable, and hold a decent battery.

    Plus it includes a frikkin laser!

  18. RonWheeler

    Bad taste

    End of.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Bad taste

      You do realise it is just a test rig for exploring potential UI concepts?

  19. David Paul Morgan
    Thumb Up

    Baxter Softscreens anyone?

    coupled with this technology

    http://www.extremetech.com/electronics/124229-lg-begins-mass-production-of-flexible-plastic-e-ink-displays

    having multi-modules working together is a great idea.

    One module could be either a sports/fitness sensor, or a medical sensor (bp, heart, diabetes sugar levels etc) the next module is then the summary display.

    move it close to a 7" 'slab to work on the data etc.

    Lego for data!

  20. ecofeco Silver badge

    Very interesting

    Clever. I see some new possibilities there.

  21. Vociferous

    I still think a single 4" screen on the arm would be better.

    Don't see why smartwatch has to be 1" max.

    1. monkeyfish

      Re: I still think a single 4" screen on the arm would be better.

      I was thinking that. It would have to be thin*, and maybe translucent when it's not on, and god knows where you'd put the battery. But it's future tech we're talking about, who cares where the battery goes!

      * I have in my head an image from sci-fi or a comic I saw at some point, but can't remember where it came from.. Inspector gadget maybe? Didn't penny have something like that on her wrist? Google doesn't show it, so who knows.

  22. monkeyfish

    or fondleslabs as we would come to know them

    No, no we wouldn't. Not anywhere other than the reg.

  23. RealBigAl

    Looks like the teleport bracelet from Blake's 7 (Not the Microsoft one....)

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