A new Smart Fabric patent from Apple reveals how Health Sensors could be integrated into a future Apple Watch band & more
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a series of health related patent applications from Apple. The first two patents (01 and 02) covered different aspects of future blood pressure devices that Apple has been working on for at least 5 or 6 years. In this third health related patent, Apple takes another angle by integrating or weaving, health sensors directly into an Apple Watch band, headband, garments and more.
Apple notes that interlacing equipment (e.g., weaving equipment, knitting equipment, braiding equipment, etc.) may be provided with individually adjustable components. The use of individually adjustable components may allow electrical components to be inserted into and/or embedded in the fabric during the creation or formation of the fabric.
The interlacing equipment may create a gap between first and second fabric portions during interlacing operations. The gap may be a void between fabric portions or the gap may be a position or location between fabric portions. An insertion tool may insert an electrical component into the gap, and the electrical component may be electrically coupled to conductive strands in the gap, if desired.
An electrical component may include an internal portion that is located inside of the fabric, an external portion that is located on an exterior surface of the fabric, and protrusions that extend through the fabric to electrically and/or mechanically couple the internal and external portions of the electrical component. The internal portion of the component may be inserted into the fabric during formation of the fabric. After the fabric is formed, protrusions on the internal portion may extend through the fabric and may be exposed to the exterior of the fabric. The external portion of the component may then be coupled to the internal portion by attaching the protrusions to mating attachment structures (e.g., recesses) on the external portion of the fabric.
The external portion of the component may contain skin-facing and/or viewer-facing input-output devices (e.g., a heart-rate sensor, a blood oxygen sensor, a microphone, a speaker, a display, an indicator, a touch screen, a button, etc.), while the internal portion may contain circuitry that electrically communicates with the input-output device(s) in the external portion.
Apple's patent FIG. 10 below is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative electrical component within a fabric; FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative electrical component having an internal portion located within a piece of fabric and coupled to first and second external portions located outside of the fabric; FIG. 18 is a top view of an illustrative electronic device such as a watch having a fabric strap that incorporates one or more electrical components; and FIG. 19 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative electronic device of the type shown in FIG. 18 with a fabric strap that incorporates an electrical component having an internal portion located within the fabric and an external portion located outside of the fabric
Further to FIG. 10, Apple note that fabric #12 may form a fabric band that is worn around a user's wrist or other body part. External portion #26B may be an optical component such as a heart-rate sensor (e.g., a photoplethysmography sensor), a blood oxygen sensor, or other optical sensor that rests against a user's skin (or a non-optical heart-rate sensor such as electrocardiographic electrodes that rest against the skin).
For more details, review Apple's patent application # US 20230061553 A1.
- David Kindlon: Design Engineer-Special Projects
- Storrs Hoen: Master Scientist/Engineer
- Daniel Podhajny: Product Design (came to Apple from Nike, Knit Exploration Innovator – part of Flyknit technology group)
- Chen Yue: UI Designer
- Benjamin Grena: Hardware Design Engineer