Corning preps 3D-shaped Gorilla Glass as iWatch rumors persist

iWatch and curved iPhone could use 3D Gorilla Glass

3D Gorilla Glass

Smartphone manufacturers are experimenting with new phone designs and entering completely fresh product categories like smartwatches, so glass makers have to follow their literal bend.

That's why Corning announced that it's ready to manufacture 3D glass-forming technology to shape its patented Gorilla Glass for curved devices in 2014.

"We can now take Gorilla Glass all the way from flat sheet to a finished 3D-shaped product in Asia, expediting turnaround times and minimizing logistical complexity," said James R. Steiner, Corning senior vice president and general manager, in a press release.

Steiner called this a win for customers, but it's also a boon for Corning. More than half of the top 10 smartphone manufacturers already market devices with subtle curves to their cover glass.

Corning could come to wrists via iWatch

Buried in Corning's press release is the mention of "wearable applications," something that its 3D-forming technology promises to wrap around in a protective manner.

That immediately brings to mind that Corning is the tough-as-nails glass supplier for Apple's iOS devices. Gorilla Glass is thought to be found in everything from the iPhone 5S to the new iPad Air.

Apple could use Corning's thin, but resilient glass if it unveils the iWatch later this year. A wrist-mounted wearable could be susceptible to just as many bumps and bruises as a smartphone.

The Cupertino company could also make use of 3D-shaped Gorilla Glass if it decides to launch a curved iPhone like some reports suggest for the iPhone 6.

Flat-shaped Gorilla Glass protects more than one billion devices worldwide, so Corning should be able to meet the 3D-shaped glass demands of at least one company's wearable. We should know exactly which later this year.