Garmin is working on a solar-powered smartwatch with an OLED display
Garmin has filed a patent for an energy-collecting display module. The patent, filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), describes how Garmin could combine solar charging and OLED display technology in future devices.
If this technology comes to life, it would mean that users would no longer have to choose between the long running time available through solar power, as seen in the Instinct 2 Solar, or the high-quality OLED display, as used in the Epix 2.
Garmin’s solar-powered smartwatches currently use a memory-in-pixel (MIP) display, which has reduced screen brightness and depth of color compared to OLED displays. The partially transparent Power Glass, which these devices use for solar charging, would negatively impact the quality of an OLED display.
The proposed new technology layers the solar cells between the sub-pixels of the OLED display, which should allow solar charging with a brighter screen than the MIP display currently used. However, the interspersed photovoltaic regions might mean that this specialized OLED display would be darker than the standard OLED equivalent. Still, there is no evidence to support this theory at the moment.
The patent application suggests that Garmin might also use this new OLED display in products as a handheld GPS device. It is unclear if or when the company would launch products with this new specialized display panel.