Want slimmer and lighter gadgets with amazing battery life? Jeff Bezos is right there with you — and he has a potential solution.

bezosA newly published patent application, listing the Amazon CEO as one of two inventors, describes the future of “remote displays” — in which the devices in our hands are reduced to mere screens, with minimal storage and no need for bulky batteries or processors.

Power and content would be delivered wirelessly from a nearby base station, according to the filing. That base station would also receive user input (for example, detecting a gesture or receiving voice commands from across the room) and handle the behind-the-scenes processing (sending a signal to the display to turn the page, for example).

The remote displays will be able to operate “for substantially longer periods and may not need to be recharged,” the filing explains. No more pesky power cords.

How could this be applied in the real world? Here’s one scenario from the filing.

For example, a college campus might have multiple primary stations located across campus. The primary stations located throughout campus basically establish a wireless power and data network, such that a student, using their portable display, can access data anywhere on campus. At the same time, the portable display constantly receives power from the network of primary stations while the student is on campus. Thus, the portable display may operate without requiring an independent power source (e.g., rechargeable battery). Similar to Wi-Fi services today that require a fee to access, users could be charged an access or usage fee to utilize the system including usage of the wirelessly transmitted power. [A] rechargeable battery may however provide additional benefits. If the data available to the student included the electronic version of the text books required by a class, a student might be able to view the electronic version of the text book while in class and may no longer need to carry multiple, heavy books around campus.

The digital reading scenarios described in the patent application are particularly notable — potentially giving a sense for where Amazon’s Kindle business could be headed, or at least how Bezos is thinking about the future.

bezosHowever, the situations described in the filing go much further, suggesting potential applications for these remote displays in car windshields and, yes, even glasses.

Look out, Google?

The Amazon patent filing says, “For example, a user might adhere a thin portable display to the user’s glasses, such that the user can utilize the glasses as a display screen when desired. In other embodiments, a portable display or communication device can take the form of an earpiece that allows a user to hear audio information and/or provide audio input while simultaneously receiving power wirelessly from a primary station.”

It goes unmentioned in the filing, but another benefit of this approach would be to drive down device costs and prices — a topic near and dear to the heart of Bezos and Amazon. (Of course, that base station wouldn’t be free … or would it? Future Amazon Prime benefit?)

Also listed on the patent is Amazon VP Greg Hart, who was also an inventor with Bezos on the company’s famous smartphone airbag patent. Bezos and Hart applied for the patent last September, and the application was made public last week.

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  • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com/ FrankCatalano

    I’m flashing back to the days of client/server computing (with the addition of wireless and the power part, of course). Everything old is new again. As long as no users are microwaved.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thesavaged1 Dan Savage

    Sounds like something Nikola Tesla would want in on!

  • http://twitter.com/fijiaaron Aaron Evans

    A new low from the patent office.

  • sampmamp

    Man that dude is like all over it. Wow.


  • http://twitter.com/bradneuberg Brad Neuberg

    It sounds like a great idea. However, patents are meant to cover implementations, not ideas. The hard part of this one is how to wirelessly deliver the power, ala Nikola Tesla, and this patent doesn’t touch that with a ten foot pole. Another land grab on the future freely given out by the patent office; this never should have been issued.

  • Ric

    This isnt a bad iteration per se, but it hinges on the fact that everyone is going to want to live in the cloud and that just isnt going to happen.

    My old school Kindle is about as disconnected to my content as I am every going to tolerate. Before you say I am an idiot, lose your shit or get it hacked once in the ether and lets see how sold you stay on the cloud

    • Scott Mather

      You might be interested in this Kickstarter program happening now. Called the Casetop, it is not primarily a wireless device. It does turn almost any smart phone into a laptop with a 720 or 1080p screen, full sized keyboard, and a 30+ hour battery that actually charges the phone at the same time!

      Take a look. Only 11 days to go.


  • http://twitter.com/2mql3 Larry Bird

    So basically you have client / server computing and wireless power both existing ideas combined in a very obvious way – sorry where’s the innovation that warrants a patent ?

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