what you need to know
- Garmin has registered a patent for a solar-chargeable display module for smartwatches.
- The display could potentially be used for an OLED display while extending battery life between charges.
- Many Garmin smartwatches have solar charging displays, but they are not OLED.
Garmin makes some of the best Android smartwatches on the market, especially for fitness enthusiasts. Still, the company seems to be looking to improve the battery life of its high-end smartwatches like the Garmin Venu series. Garmin has registered a new patent that could do just that by giving them a new OLED display.
The patent (via TechRadar) describes an “energy-harvesting display module” that would be placed between the sub-pixels of the smartwatch’s display. This differs from Garmin’s current approach for Power Glass displays on watches like the fēnix and Instinct series, placing a photovoltaic layer between the memory-in-pixel (MIP) display and the glass cover.
Garmin points out in the patent how the current method affects display quality:
There have been some attempts to outfit smartwatches with translucent solar panels, such as by using discrete solar cells located on top of (or above) the watch’s display. However, the presence of such a solar cell cover layer reduces the visibility of the display module. Therefore, there is a need for an integrated energy harvesting display module that harvests solar energy without significantly obscuring its display.
It sounds like Garmin’s approach could improve battery life on a future Venu or Epix model while preserving its vibrant OLED display. The Garmin Venu 2 Plus has been going for over a week on a single charge, which is pretty impressive compared to Wear OS or even WatchOS smartwatches. However, that’s still an astounding 22 days as claimed by Gamin with the latest Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar Edition in smartwatch mode.
Garmin seems to hint that the technology could be used in devices other than smartwatches, although of course it’s unclear what these energy-harvesting display modules will actually look like when applied to OLED displays. However, the idea of a longer-lasting smartwatch always excites us, and we hope this patent makes a difference.
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
$450 at Amazon $450 at Best Buy $450 at Garmin
it gets better
For anyone looking to buy a Venu 2, you might want to consider Garmin’s latest variant, which thanks to its built-in microphone can be used to make calls and issue commands to the smartphone’s virtual assistant.