Apple wins a patent for Watch Band with an adjustable fit system for Casual & Sports use & keeping Health Sensors in position
In October 2017, Patently Apple posted an IP report titled "Apple Wins Patent for Reinventing the Watch Band with Auto Adjustment and more. Then in October 2019, Patently Apple posted an IP report titled "Apple Wins Patent for a Next-Gen Apple Watch Band designed to deliver Constant Tension and Superior Comfort."
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple another Apple Watch band patent regarding an adjustable Apple Watch band system. This is evidently an ongoing project at Apple with different approaches being researched. At some point in time, one or a combination of their patented technologies will be chosen by Apple executives and given the final design the green light.
Watch Band With Adjustable Fit
Apple's granted patent generally relates to watch bands, and, more particularly, to watch bands with adjustable fit for a user's wrist.
In many cases, conventional watch bands may catch, pinch, or pull a user's hair or skin during use if the band is overly tight. In other cases, watch bands may slide along a user's wrist, turn about a user's wrist, or may be otherwise uncomfortable or bothersome to a user if the band is overly loose. These problems can be exacerbated during periods of heightened activity, such as while running or playing sports. Furthermore, adjusting the size or fit of conventional watch bands often requires multiple steps, specialized tools, and/or technical expertise. In other cases, sizing options available to a user may be insufficient to obtain a proper fit. In still further examples, the fit may be different and/or may be perceived to be different given certain environmental (e.g. temperature, humidity) or biological conditions (e.g., sweat, inflammation). As a result, users of conventional wristwatches and/or fitness/health tracking devices may select a tolerable (although not optimally comfortable) fit, reserving tight bands for fitness/health tracking devices and loose bands for conventional wristwatches.
However, some wearable electronic devices (such as smart watches) may be multi-purpose devices, providing in one example both fitness/health tracking and timekeeping functionality. Accordingly, a user may prefer the fit of a smart watch to vary with use. For example, a user may prefer a looser fit in a timekeeping mode and a tighter fit in a fitness/health tracking mode.
Accordingly, there may be a present need for systems and methods for dynamic adjustment of the fit of wearable electronic devices.
Certain embodiments take the form of methods for adjusting the fit of a wearable electronic device secured by a band to a user. Features of a band can provide a capability to automatically adjust a tightness of a band without active user input. For example, a tensioning element can be provided with a capability to alter the fit of a band in response to heat emitted by a user wearing the band.
By further example, the watch can generate a signal with an instruction to adjust the fit of the band, selecting an operational mode (e.g., tightening mode, loosening mode, flexibility mode, rigid mode, etc.) of a tensioner coupled to electronic device, and actuating the tensioning element based on the instruction.
The term “tensioning element” and related phrases and terminology is used to generally refer to structural component of a band that changes at least one feature thereof to adjust a fit of the band on a wrist or other portion of a user. The term “tensioner” and related phrases and terminology is used herein to generally refer to a circuit, apparatus, controller, or program code executed by a processor, that is configured to cause, either directly or indirectly, tension in a band or strap coupled to an electronic device housing to increase or decrease. For example, a tensioner can apply a stimulus to a tensioning element.
In some examples, a tensioning element associated with and/or coupled to the watch can also be coupled to a portion of the band that is configured to compress in response to heat conditions. For example, a shape memory polymer can be formed in a longitudinal (e.g., serpentine) pattern within one or more portions of a band. Body heat of a user and/or heat generated by the watch can be applied to the shape memory polymer to alter its length and thereby increase or decrease the tightness of the band.
In other examples, a tensioning element associated with and/or coupled to the watch can also be coupled to a portion of the band that is configured to change an overall shape in response to heat conditions. For example, a shape memory polymer can be formed along one or more portions of a band. Body heat of a user and/or heat generated by the watch can be applied to the shape memory polymer to change its shape and thereby increase or decrease the tightness of the band.
In other examples, a tensioning element associated with and/or coupled to the watch can also be coupled to a portion of the band that is configured to change an overall shape in response to heat conditions. For example, a shape memory polymer can be formed within a thickness of at least a portion of the band. Body heat of a user and/or heat generated by the watch can be applied to the shape memory polymer to change its thickness and thereby increase or decrease the tightness of the band.
In other embodiments, the watch 100 can include one or more sensors (not shown) positioned on a bottom surface of the housing 104. Sensors utilized by the watch 100 can vary from embodiment to embodiment. Suitable sensors can include temperature sensors, electrodermal sensors, blood pressure sensors, heart rate sensors, respiration rate sensors, oxygen saturation sensors, plethysmographic sensors, activity sensors, pedometers, blood glucose sensors, body weight sensors, body fat sensors, blood alcohol sensors, dietary sensors, and so on.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is to illustrate that the focus of the patent is on an Apple Watch; ) FIG. 5 depicts a simplified block diagram of a watch 300 configured to be coupled to a user with a band about the user's wrist; FIG. 6, a watch band can provide an ability to adjust a fit on a user with interwoven strands. For example, a watch band can include at least one strand of a shape memory polymer that changes a characteristic thereof in response to a stimulus, such as heat and/or an induced temperature or temperature change. The shape memory polymer can provide an ability to reversibly change the fit of the watch band.
Apple's patent FIG. 9 above illustrates that there are tensioning elements within the woven Apple Watch material and FIG. 10 illustrates that tensioning elements without the woven band; FIG. 17 shows a graph with an ideal load-displacement curve for a band.
Like with most inventions, Apple wants to ensure that the application could go beyond the focus device, which in this case is an Apple Watch band. Apple notes that the invention may also apply to: a smart phone, a gaming device, a digital music player, a sports accessory device, a medical device, navigation assistant, accessibility device, a device that provides time and/or weather information, a health assistant, and other types of electronic device suitable for attaching to a user.
Apple further notes that the methods, systems, and techniques described herein with illustrative reference to wrist-worn devices may be equally applied to non-wrist worn devices. For example, in other embodiments, devices may be configured to attach to other limbs or body portions (e.g., necklaces, arm bands, waistbands, ear hooks, finger rings, anklets, toe rings, chest wraps, head bands, etc.). Furthermore, other embodiments described herein may be applied to dynamically adjust the fit of an electronic device to a non-user object such as a charging stand or station. In other embodiments, an electronic device can be fit to another biological subject such as an animal (e.g., pet collar).
For more details, review Apple's granted patent US 11540599 B1.
- Osamu Yabe: Senior Manager, Apple Watch Product Design
- Eiryo (Rios Su) Shiraishi: Product Design Engineer (Next-Gen watch band development+)
- Naoto Matsuyuki: Japan iPod PD
- Yoshihiro Yokoyama: No LinkedIn Profile found.