Apple Seek Patent for an all-Glass Apple Watch with Touch Sensitive Sidewalls and Advanced Biometric & Health Sensors
Yesterday Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple wins Patent revealing possible future all-glass iPhone that allows Imagery on both Front & Backsides, plus an all-Glass Mac Pro Tower +." The patent also covered the possibility of a future all-glass Apple Watch." Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to a future Apple Watch possibly having housings that includes a glass shell that is defined by multiple sides of the device. The Watch will provide graphical outputs through the sidewall acting as controls and more. The Watch will also have a series of advanced biometric and health sensors.
Conventionally, glass has been used in such devices to provide a transparent window over a touchscreen on a front of the device. This patent goes further wherein the Apple Watch housing will use glass to define front surfaces as well as multiple side exterior surfaces of the housing.
For example, a housing of the future Apple Watch, may include a glass shell that resembles a five-sided box that fits onto (and is coupled to) a chassis or frame member. The glass shell may have a front glass wall that defines a front surface of the watch, as well as multiple side walls, each extending away from the front wall and each respective side wall defining at least part of a respective side surface of the housing.
This new configuration will allow for a significant amount of mechanical overlap between the chassis and the glass shell, and thus may increase the strength of the mechanical coupling between the glass shell and the chassis.
Further, by forming the side walls of the watch entirely or substantially entirely out of glass, additional functional and aesthetic benefits are realized.
For example, displays may be positioned adjacent the side walls to display graphical outputs on (or through) the side walls. Sensors, such as touch sensors, biometric sensors, etc., may leverage the transparent and/or dielectric properties of the glass side walls to sense or detect inputs applied to the side walls.
Apple's patent FIG. 1A below is an example of an Apple Watch with a glass housing. According to Apple, the shell #104 may be formed from glass, and may be referred to as a glass shell. Where the shell is formed from glass, it may be formed from any suitable glass, and may be strengthened, tempered, or processed in any other suitable way to provide a target strength, toughness, scratch resistance, appearance, or other property.
Example glass compositions may include, without limitation, soda lime glass, aluminosilicate glass, borosilicate glass, glass ceramic, or the like. The glass material may be chemically strengthened (e.g., via ion exchange baths or other techniques), annealed, tempered, or processed using other techniques. The shell 104 may also include one or more coatings, such as oleophobic coatings, anti-reflective coatings, anti-scratch coatings, or any other suitable coatings, films, layers, or the like.
The glass shell, may be formed using any suitable technique. For example, the shell may be machined from a single block of glass. As another example, the shell may be formed by slumping and/or molding a sheet of glass. As yet another example, the shell 104 may be formed by attaching multiple pieces of glass together.
Apple's patent FIGS. 4C-4D above illustrate the watch #400 with graphical outputs displayed through a side wall by a side-facing portion of the display. Notably, the display can produce various types of graphical outputs on the sides of the device, and can dynamically change or vary the graphical outputs based on factors such as time of day, an active application of the watch, a current activity of the wearer (e.g., exercise, listening to music, watching video media, sleeping, working, running, swimming, etc.), or any other suitable factor.
Further, the watch may include touch sensing systems, force sensing systems, or other types of sensing systems that can detect inputs applied to the front and/or side walls of the watch (e.g., touch inputs applied by a user). Accordingly, the graphical outputs displayed on the sides of the watch may be buttons, sliders, or other affordances.
Patent FIG. 4D illustrates the watch while displaying a second set of graphical outputs on the side display region #425 of the watch. For example, the graphical outputs in FIG. 4D may include a start button #428 and a stop button #430. The watch may transition from the first set of graphical outputs (e.g., those shown in FIG. 4C or any other graphical outputs or even a blank side display region) to the second set of graphical outputs upon activation of an application, detection of an activity of the wearer, or the like. For example, the start and stop buttons #428, #430 may control a stop watch or other fitness tracker, or it may control music or other media playback.
The buttons shown in FIGS. 4C-4D are merely examples of buttons, affordances, images, or other graphical outputs that may be displayed on a side display region of a watch. Other types of graphical outputs may be displayed on a side display region of a watch depending on user settings, detected conditions of the watch and/or of the user, or based on other factors or triggering events.
Lastly, the Apple Watch may include temperature sensors, biometric sensors (e.g., fingerprint sensors, photoplethysmographs, blood-oxygen sensors, blood sugar sensors, electrocardiograph sensors, or the like), eye-tracking sensors, retinal scanners, humidity sensors, buttons, switches, or the like.
For more details, review Apple's patent application number 20210353226. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.