Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that covers the creation of the metal mesh Apple Watch Milanese Loop Band. The application covers the manufacturing process, the materials, magnetics and lubricants used to create this graceful band. In the end, it's a big Apple Watch band day as we list an additional eleven patent applications covering magnets, attachment systems and much, much more.
Apple's Invention: Apple Watch Milanese Loop Band
Apple invention generally relates to components or devices made with a mesh material and the techniques for manufacturing such a band. In particular a metallic mesh material may be used to form a portion of a band or securing strap for a wearable device. The band may include or be integrated with a magnetic tab for securing a wearable device to the wrist of a user. The tab may include one or more magnetic elements that are configured to engage a surface of the mesh to secure the wearable device to the wrist of a user. A friction-enhancing member may also be disposed on a surface of the tab to improve the engagement of the tab.
In some embodiments, the magnetic tab includes multiple magnetic elements, including a center magnetic element having a magnetic pole orientation that is substantially perpendicular to the attachment face, and at least one side magnetic element having a magnetic pole orientation that is at a non-perpendicular angle with respect to the attachment face. In some cases, the angle is approximately 45 degrees.
In some embodiments, the band strap includes a magnetic tab which is configured to attach the consumer product to the wrist of a user. The magnetic tab may be attached to one end of the band and may be configured to fold through a loop and magnetically couple to a surface of the band. In some embodiments, the loop may include a protective rail for reducing the risk of damage to the band in the case of a fall or impact. In some embodiments, the latch includes one or more magnets in a configuration that facilitate coupling to the band while, in some instances, also reducing the magnetic attraction to other objects or materials.
The metallic mesh may not necessarily be formed entirely of metallic materials and, more specifically, ferromagnetic materials. In some cases, some or all of the non-ferromagnetic links may be formed from a metallic material that is not ferromagnetic. For example, the non-ferromagnetic links may be formed from a copper, silver, gold, aluminum, magnesium, platinum, or other non-magnetic metal material. In some cases, the mesh includes one or more strands or filaments that are woven or integrated with the links. The one or more strands or filaments may also be either a ferromagnetic or non-ferromagnetic material. A combination of materials may be selected based on density of the ferromagnetic materials suitable for engaging the magnetic tab and other factors, such as mesh finish, mesh appearance, and/or mechanical properties of the mesh material.
In some cases, the metallic mesh material includes a lubricant material that facilitates the relative movement of the individual links (or threads) with respect to each other. For example, a lubricant material may reduce rubbing friction when the mesh is bent and/or flattened. The lubricant material may also allow the mesh to return a natural shape that is free from kinks after being bent. In some cases, the lubricant material includes a dry powdered lubricant material. For example a polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or PTFE-composite particle powder may be applied to the mesh material using a dip or immersion process. In some cases, the lubricant, as applied, includes a solvent material that evaporates leaving the lubricant material in the mesh. In some cases, a light oil or wet lubricant may be applied to the mesh material using a spray or other liquid application process.
For those interested in exploring the manufacturing process of the Apple Watch Milanese Loop band further could do so by reviewing patent application 20160037841 which was filed in March 2015. For the record, Apple has listed 34 patent claims for this invention.
Beyond the Milanese Loop patent application, USPTO published an additional ten Apple Watch applications as follows:
ONE: SELF-CLOSING BUCKLE MECHANISM
TWO: ATTACHMENT SYSTEM FOR AN ELECTRONIC DEVICE
THREE: SEGMENTED ATTACHMENT DEVICE
FOUR: MAGNETIC ACTUATED ATTACHMENT MECHANISMS FOR WEARABLE DEVICES
FIVE: CONSUMER PRODUCT ATTACHMENT SYSTEMS HAVING A LOCKING ASSEMBLY
SIX: CONSUMER PRODUCT ATTACHMENT SYSTEMS HAVING LOCKING OR EXPANSION CHARACTERISTICS
SEVEN: ATTACHMENT SYSTEMS FOR ELECTRONIC DEVICES
EIGHT: MAGNETIC BUCKLE
NINE: WEARABLE BAND INCLUDING MAGNETS
TEN: WEARABLE BAND INCLUDING MAGNETS
In a separate Apple Watch related patent application published by the USPTO today, Apple discusses facilitating automatic adjustment of a volume control and/or other settings based on properties of the ambient environment. For example, when a host device generates an audible alert (e.g., a ring tone indicating an incoming call), a wearable device that has a microphone can use its microphone to sample the ambient sound and attempt to detect a distinct contribution corresponding to the audible alert.
For more details on this invention, check out Apple's patent application titled "VOLUME CONTROL FOR MOBILE DEVICE USING A WIRELESS DEVICE" here.
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