Sharp's foldable ambitions may extend beyond phones to smart bands and even hand-held consoles
The Japanese OEM Sharp may be shaping up for a foldable future in a serious way. A new report by LetsGoDigital indicates that this company has plans to apply the emerging technology to the smartphone - and far beyond. It may have filed patents for devices that are also for use in other arenas, including wearables, business and even gaming.
It should be noted that the documents on which these new claims are made are all in the Japanese language. However, they also contain diagrams (and renders, in some cases) that make their apparent intended designs and their uses more clear. They are dated 2016 to 2019, the earliest of which shows what is most likely to be a foldable phone in a Razr-like clamshell form factor. As Sharp has in fact produced a concept device in this vein, this one is plausible at least.
A patent coming later in the same series shows an analogous phone-like design, but one that integrates what LetsGoDigital interprets as "receivers" (or sensors, maybe?) along one short edge of the phone. It is possible that they are not to be visible above or through a display, thus preserving a full-screen appearance. However, the remainder of the "patents" are even more interesting.
One shows a band-like device, the display of which seems to curve all the way around it, that also integrates "receivers". This, then, may be a consumer- or even an enterprise-grade wearable to be released in subsequent years. Speaking of potential commercial applications of Sharp's alleged foldable tech, there is also a patent for a foldable device with a credit-card slot. Despite this inclusion, it is as futuristically thin as the potential Sharp smartphones.
This can also be said for the final inclusion in this new collection of possible intellectual property: a rather larger foldable that is almost certainly intended as a gaming device. It is shown at the bottom of its corresponding document in a full-color image showing a screen that folds in the middle flanked by a D-pad and a circular arrangement of command buttons. In this case, these controls may or may not be virtual: all the same, it is an interesting prospect for the foldable future.