Lenovo’s TechWorld event in Beijing this May was used to give a glimpse of the future, with the world’s third largest smartphone company revealing its dual-screen Magic View Watch.

The design closely mirrors that of the Moto 360 smartwatch (which is not surprising as Lenovo purchased Motorola Mobility in October last year) apart from a new module that sits between the watch face and the strap.

Dual-screen smartwatch concept

The Magic View Watch may only be a concept, but the fully operational demonstration model, perfectly showed off Lenovo’s solution to providing higher resolution imagery that is beyond the capabilities of the watch face.

A Virtual Projection Optical Engine casts the image onto the Optical Element of a secondary display that sits below the watch face. This secondary display has a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, which is four times that of the watch face.

To view the imagery, the user swipes two fingers down across the screen and then holds the display just a few inches away from the eye. The optical illusion results in an image that appears to be 20 times larger than the image on the watch face, so a 17” virtual display is seen in an Oculus Rift type experience.

The secondary display of the Magic View Watch can be used to view pictures, video with mono sound, GPS maps with Street View and messages. The watch also tackles privacy issues by creating a private viewing space that is only visible to the wearer.

As purely a concept model, the Android Wear-powered Magic View Watch still has technological barriers to break down before it can become a consumer device.

Blue-green tints blur the display if it isn’t viewed from the perfect angle and video clips can only be viewed for up to 15 seconds before the user begins to feel dizzy. The higher resolution of the secondary display also consumes more power and this could be an issue as today’s smartwatch batteries already struggle to provide multi-day usage between charges.

“As purely a concept model, the Android Wear-powered Magic View Watch still has technological barriers to break down before it can become a consumer device”.

Smartwatch patents hint at the future

There is no doubt that the Internet of Things will continue to grow as further innovation finds its way onto smartwatches. There are several smartwatch patents that hint at the possibilities of the future:

1. A 2009 patent made by Apple describes a special smartwatch heart rate sensor that could be used to authenticate and identify the user through its detected signals.

2. Nokia, in 2009, patented the idea of a touch sensitive smartwatch band.
3. In 2013, an Apple patent for Liquidmetal suggests that future smartwatches will be stronger, more durable, lighter and thinner than those made from aluminium today.

4. A 2014 patent made by Samsung describes a rotating ring / bezel that would control the menu, with options appearing around the curved rim of the watch face. This would enable the wearer to quickly rotate through A-Z menus, adjust the volume or select TV channels. The Samsung Gear-A Smartwatch, set to be launched in Autumn, may feature this idea.

5. A Google 2014 patent describes a smartwatch that senses when it is, or isn’t being worn. When the smartwatch switches from worn mode to unworn mode it notifies the user of calendar events happening that day and switches into a power saving mode.
6. In 2014, a Google patent describes a smartwatch that projects a virtual keyboard / display onto the wrist, forearm or palm. Sensors then capture data input by monitoring the taps of a finger or stylus against the skin.
7. Google’s 2014 patent mentions a pill that would paint cancer cells in the human body. This patent was followed by a 2015 patent that describes a device, that could form part of a smartwatch, which would use the process of ‘nanoparticle phoresis’ to draw out those painted cells from the bloodstream and through the skin using magnetic energy.
8. A 2015 LG patent foresees a tilt sensor that monitors the smartwatch’s repetitive tilts to guide the wearer through the menu.

9. A second 2015 patent from LG envisions a wrist wrapping smartphone that uses LG’s existing Plastic OLED flexible screen technology to dock onto a pre-worn wristband.

The future of wearable technology?

With all of these patents suggesting what we could be in store for, could the Lenovo Magic View just be one of many upcoming developments in wearable technology?

Whilst it’s unlikely that we’ll see too many of these advancements in the next few years, it still paints a bright picture around smart technology – and one which extends well past the current batch of devices we have.

Hopefully this is something we see come to fruition in the future, rather than fading into obscurity…