In Q4 2016 Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple expands their work on Advancing Apple Watch to Include Wrist Gestures and a Camera." The image over our cover graphic is from that patent filing. Apple's patent application that was published by the U.S. Patent Office this week shows that a number of applications were written and are now under a single continuation patent. Nine Apple engineers are listed on this invention that was filed in March 2019. The 2016 patent filing only listed single Apple Engineer.
Apple's Erik de Jong is listed on this patent which makes it a serious project/ invention because de Jong is noted as the Apple Watch Product Design Lead. His profile notes that he's "Leading a team of design engineers to create next generations of Apple Watch. He later adds, his team is working to "develop future product concepts and features."
Apple's invention generally relates to Apple Watch detecting a user's motion and gesture input to provide commands to the device or to other devices. In particular, Apple Watch can use one or more sensors to determine a user's motion and gesture input based on movements of the user's hand, arm, wrist, and fingers.
One or more optical sensors, inertial sensors, mechanical contact sensors, and myoelectric sensors, to name just a few examples, can detect movements of the user's body. Based on the detected movements, a user gesture can be determined. The device can interpret the gesture as an input command, and the device can perform an operation based on the input command.
By detecting movements of the user's body and associating the movements with input commands, the device can receive user input commands through another means in addition to, or instead of, voice and touch input, for example.
Apple's patent FIG. 9A below illustrates exemplary gestures and corresponding commands; FIGS. 9D-9E illustrate exemplary hand and wrist movement; FIGS. 9F-9H illustrate exemplary finger movements associated with sign language.
Regarding patent FIG. 9H Apple notes that "In some examples, detecting sign language can include detecting both finger and wrist movements in both hands of the user. For example, a user can sign the word "Go" by extending both index fingers #903 and #905 for both hands, flexing the remaining fingers #902 and #907 for both hands, and moving wrists #920 and #921 in an alternating and circular fashion.
Apple never explains the second device shown as #901. It's hard to believe that Apple would expect a user to be using two Apple Watches. Is it an Apple Watch accessory? For now it's a mystery.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 below illustrates a plan view of an Apple Watch with motion and gesture sensing using inertial sensors; FIG. 7A illustrates a cross-sectional view of a wrist and an Apple Watch with motion and gesture sensing using mechanical contact sensors; FIG. 7B illustrates a cross-sectional view of a wrist and an Apple Watch with motion and gesture sensing using optical sensors located in the strap; and FIG. 7C illustrates a close-up view of the strap.
Apple's patent FIG. 8 above illustrates a cross-sectional view of a wrist and an Apple Watch with motion and gesture sensing using myoelectric sensors.
In some examples, optical sensing can employ light sources and light sensors located on the device itself or located in the Apple Watch band. The light sources and light sensors can generate a reflectance profile from the reflectance of the light off the user's tendons, skin, muscles, and bones.
In one example such as FIG. 8 above, myoelectric sensors can allow the device to detect the electrical signal or the change in capacitance in the tendons coupled with the user's movement.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 below illustrates an exemplary configuration of an Apple Watch on a user's wrist.
More specifically, when a user wants to perform any one of the movements illustrated in the figures below starting with FIG. 3A, fingers #402, wrist #420, and hand #404 can move when the user's brain sends electrical signals to stimulate muscles #430. The muscles then contract in response to the received electrical signals.
In response to the received electrical signals, the tendons (#410) attached to muscles (#430), can also contract or move and can cause to move a user's fingers, wrist, and hand. As the tendons contract or move, Apple Watch can detect the movement of the tendons, the electrical signal, or both.
Based on either the tendon movement or electrical signal or both, the Apple Watch is able to determine the user's motion and gesture. The motion and gesture can be interpreted as commands to the Apple Watch.
Apple's patent FIG. 5B above illustrates a top view of a wrist and an Apple Watch with motion and gesture sensing using optical sensors. The lights sensors and light sources can be positioned on the Apple Watch to specifically measure movement of the tendons or the muscles.
The figures above in the 3 series illustrate exemplary finger and wrist movements.
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time. To review other Apple Watch patent-pending inventions on record, check out our archives here.
Some of Apple Inventors
Erik de Jong: Apple Watch Product Design Lead
Colin Ely: Product Design Engineer who came to Apple via Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems as a mechanical engineer.
Brian Lynch: Director of iPod Product Development
Serhan Isikman: Display Incubation and Optics Manager
Kuldeep Lonkar: Senior Product Design Engineers, worked on Apple Watch, iPhone X and HomePod. Lonkar is currently working in the Technology Development Group.
Andrzej Baranski: Product Design & Structural Analysis Engineer. Baranski came to Apple via BD Medical as Technology Leader. One project was in the design and product development of drug delivery medical devices and more.
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