Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals the haptic vibration alert system for the Apple Watch, Sports bands and possible future biometric monitors.
Technically, Apple's invention relates to portable electronic devices including one or more vibration generating systems (also referred to herein as vibrators or vibration assemblies), which may be configured to generate audible and/or inaudible vibrations. The present disclosure may be applicable to virtually any consumer electronic product which is designed to come into contact with the user's skin, including devices which are held by the user, attached to a body part of the user or otherwise placed against the user's skin. The product need not come in direct contact with the user's skin as it may be configured to provide tactile feedback through clothing.
The haptic system could apply to the Apple Watch, a future bracelet, a future biometric monitor (see #20 below) or sports band as noted below (similar to other iPod/iPhone bands).
According to Apple's patent filing, the piezoelectric element of portable electronic devices may be configured to conversely harvest strain in the material of the housing. For example, when worn, a portable electronic device may be secured against the skin of the wearer. The piezoelectric element may be configured to sense deflections of varying magnitude, for example micro deflections caused due to muscle contraction and/or expansions of the body part to which the product is secured. The piezoelectric element may be further configured to sense acoustic energy from the ambiance and/or from the user's body (e.g., a pulse or heartbeat of the person). The piezoelectric element may be operatively coupled to circuitry to record the event (e.g., muscle spasm, heartbeat, or other biometric information) and may be further configured to harvest the electrical energy corresponding to the sensed mechanical stress.
Apple further notes that although embodiments described herein have generally referenced piezoelectric elements, it should be appreciated that certain other materials, such as electroactive polymers, electromagnetically driven materials, and other similar materials may be used in lieu of piezoelectrics. In some embodiments, a motion or force that is generally planar to a device/housing surface or a user's skin may be induced instead of a perpendicular motion or force.
Apple patent application 20160023245 was filed last September.
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