Apple has Won a Patent for a possible Future Apple Watch Band that will deliver Constant Tension & Superior Comfort
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to a possible next-gen Apple Watch band that will provide users with constant wrist tension to ensure that it stays firmly in place while providing superior comfort.
Apple's granted patent, which skipped the application phase, covers Apple Watch bands that maintain a substantially constant tension despite changes in their lengths while worn by a user.
According to Apple, such changes in length may occur automatically to accommodate changes in the size and circumference of a user's wrist as they move their wrist normally (e.g., moving it from straight, with a smaller circumference, to bent, with a larger circumference).
By maintaining a constant tension, the watch bands may also maintain a constant force on the user's wrist, and they may cause a watch body attached to the bands to also maintain a constant force on the user's wrist. This can increase a user's comfort, since the watch will not get tighter or constrict their wrist as they straighten and bend their wrist.
It can also help optimize operation of any sensors in the watch band or watch body that benefit from being held against the user's wrist with a constant force, such as some physiological sensors (e.g., some heart rate sensors).
Some embodiments of the watch band include repetitive compliant mechanisms that are each movable between a closed and an open position, and which move between the closed and open positions sequentially. The repetitive compliant mechanisms may themselves form the watch band, or at least the expandable portion of it.
Each repetitive compliant mechanism may only insubstantially and temporarily change the tension in the overall band as it moves between the open and closed position, so the overall tension in the watch band remains substantially constant.
Other embodiments of the watch band include separate band portions that are movable relative to each other. The separate band portions may be connected together to form the watch band by constant-force springs. So when a user moves the portions away from each other or together by bending or straightening their wrist, the overall length of the watch band changes to accommodate the wrist, but the constant-force springs between the moving band portions maintain a constant overall tension in the watch band.
Apple's patent 7 below shows a watch with a watch band that includes repetitive compliant mechanisms; FIG. 8 is an exploded view of the repetitive compliant mechanisms; FIG. 17 shows a constant-force spring; FIG. 18 shows a watch with a watch band that includes a rack-and-pinion mechanism with a constant-force spring.
Apple's patent FIG. 19 above shows a portion of the watch band of FIG. 18 detailing the rack-and-pinion system.
Apple's patent FIG. 20 below is an exploded view of the rack-and-pinion system; FIG. 27 shows a watch with a watch band that includes a constant-force pillow.
Apple's granted patent US 11490697 B2 was originally filed in Q4 2019 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Today's patent isn't a design patent and so the round interface shown in FIG. 7 above is simply illustrative and not necessarily what Apple intends to introduce in the future. Though it's a little odd that Apple decided to present a future band correctly but didn't place it on their standard rectangular Apple Watch shape.
Erik de Jong: Apple Watch Product Design Lead.
Colin Ely: Product Design Engineer for Apple Watch
Sameer Pandya: Product Design Engineer
Yiwen Wu: Product Design Engineer for Apple Watch. Wu is now with Google working on Nest projects.