Sony is exploring ways to bring flexible display panels to accessories like shoulder bags and backpacks according to a recent patent spotted at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). At first glance, the technology doesn’t appear drastically different from what’s been tried before. Sony describes the tech as centering around a flexible sheet-style display connected to a power supply and control unit and switch via an electrical cable.
Digging deeper into the design, the separating factor would be that low-power “electronic paper” display’s ability to tie into a smartphone app, allowing far more than just some colored lights to be displayed. In the example images provided by Sony, the display is also larger than might be expected, taking up a significant portion of the accessories mentioned above.
So the resulting products, if Sony moves forward to implement the design, could feasibly be used to display standard animations customized to the buyer’s tastes or for showing complex multimedia like games.
Betting on a growing market
The Japanese tech giant’s return to examining displays for use in the accessories outlined in the patent’s associated document shouldn’t be too surprising. Not only are smart and other technology integrations into clothing and the like relatively slim in terms of the consumer market. That market is expected to grow according to most analysts.
Among the more favorable reports centered on smart clothing and tech-enabled accessories is one put forward by Massachusetts-based research, analysis, and advisory firm International Data Corporation (IDC) in March. The firm predicts that the market for those types of gadgets will continue growing by nearly 60-percent over the course of 2019. That’s coupled with further growth leading to 2023 by just over 40-percent.
By all accounts, the combination of smartwatches and wrist-borne wearables will continue to lead the way on the wearables front. Earwear will begin taking market share and gain the second place spot as of 2019, IDC says, shifting the market away from traditional wearables.
Sony’s patent looks to be a new bid to drive the market further away from watches via improvements over previous attempts to place displays or animations on accessories and clothing. While the company won’t necessarily release any products based on this design. But analyst expectations appear to support its exploration of the technology since demand will likely grow significantly over the next few years.
Sony’s example use cases mostly center around backpacks or shoulder bags. That could potentially allow users to take the media they love to view on their handset to a much larger format, making sharing media easier or just creating less strain on the eyes. The technology could likely be modified or repurposed for products that go beyond bags too.
Obvious possibilities for other uses include incorporation on clothing but it isn’t difficult to imagine the displays being used in other wearable accessories. In fact, Sony expressly points to ties — such as neckties or bowties — or bracelets as possibilities. More speculatively, they might also find use as the basis for in-vehicle multimedia accessories or in any number of other products where a display might be desired but less feasible with current technology.