Apple has Won a Patent for a next-gen 'Continuous Watch Band' using Highly Elastic Composites
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to a new Apple Watch Band design that Apple refers to as a 'Continuous Watch Band' using highly elastic composites allowing the band to expand to fit over a hand to the wrist and take on a 'fitted mode.'
In Apple's patent background they note that some electronic devices may be removably attached to a user. For example, electronic devices may be attached to a band which may be removably worn on a leg, a head, a chest or rib-cage, or any other specific part of the user's body depending on a function of the electronic device. In general, a wristwatch or fitness/health tracking device can be attached to a user's wrist by joining free ends of a band of the wristwatch or fitness/health tracking device together.
In many cases, watch bands may have limited fit adjustment increments available. For example, some bands have an incrementally user-adjustable size (e.g., a buckling clasp, pin and eyelet, etc.) whereas other bands have a substantially fixed size, adjustable only with specialized tools and/or expertise (e.g., folding clasp, deployment clasp, snap-fit clasp, etc.).
However, conventional bands can have negative aspects and can undesirably fail prior to the failure of the wearable electronic device.
Conventional elastic bands can lose elastic properties over time and can become too big for a user's wrist. Other materials forming the flexible bands can tear or deteriorate over time due to forces applied at the hole of the flexible band by a tongue of a buckle.
Apple's granted patent focuses providing a monolithic or one-piece wearable band for an Apple Watch, which is configured to maintain a secure attachment to the wrist so that the watch doesn't shift excessively or slip off of the user. Securement of the electronic device against the user can also be important for the function of electronic magnets, such as biometric sensors.
Additionally, it can be desirable to maximize the comfort of the user while wearing the electronic device. Often, a secure attachment can apply an undesirable amount of force on the wrist of the user. 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 physical 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. Sizing options available to a user may be insufficient to obtain a proper fit. 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 may be multi-purpose devices, providing both fitness/health tracking and timekeeping functionality.
Accordingly, the various embodiments of the present disclosure provide watch bands having a closed loop/monolithic/one-piece configuration which are capable of being elastically stretched to fit over a user's hand and contractible to comfortably and securely fit over the user's wrist to maintain contact with the fitness/health tracking sensors, without being overly tight.
Additionally, it may be desirable to provide a closed loop/monolithic/one-piece watch band formed of highly elastic materials and mechanical designs to enable a targeted extension force profile.
For example, the closed loop/monolithic/one-piece watch band is configured to maintain a stress of the single-piece watch band body in the stretched mode substantially constant against a variation in strain of the closed loop/monolithic/one-piece watch body.
Embodiments of the present disclosure provide closed-loop watch bands formed of monolithic materials developed to meet a high extension to enable installation of the watch without detaching the band while contracting to a low constant force for long term wearing.
For example, specific monolithic materials may be selected and a surface area of the monolithic materials may be modified such as by creating pores in the monolithic materials. This modification may thereby reduce the amount of force exerted by the watch band on the user's wrist as compared to conventional material, while still providing secure attachment to the user. Embodiments of the present disclosure provide ease of watch installation by a user as well as secure fitting to avoid looseness in fit of the watch under external forces.
According to some embodiments, a one-piece watch band may include multiple different materials combined together so as to provide the targeted extension force profile. For example, various materials having different properties may be combined or layered to produce a continuous closed loop body favoring high extension in some areas, and higher strength and stiffness in other areas. The aforementioned configuration advantageously allows for extension of the one-piece watch band during installation over the hand, while also allowing contraction of the one-piece watch band to the lower force for long-term secure and comfortable wearing on the user's wrist without being overly tight.'
Apple's patent FIG. 1A shows a perspective view of a watch on a wrist of a user in a fitted state; FIG. 1B shows another perspective view of the watch of FIG. 1 on the wrist of the user in the fitted state; FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of the watch of FIG. 1 stretched over a hand of the user.
Apple's patent FIG. 5B shows a “force-displacement” curve of the monolithic elastic watch band.
Securement of the electronic device against the user can also be important for the function of electronic magnets, such as biometric and fitness/health tracking sensors.
Lastly, the patent notes that he elastic material is configured to stretch up to 600% in length without plastically deforming.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent US 11602201 B1.
- Osamu Yabe: Senior Manager, Apple Watch Product Design
- Scott Slabaugh: Manager, Polymer Materials – Product Design
- Tatsuya Sano: Senior Product Design Engineer
- Jenny Hsu: Direct Sourcing Project Manager
- Zaki Moustafa: Product Design Engineer
- Chia-Hsiang Chen: ASIC designer
- Eiryo (Rios Su) Shiraishi: Product Design Engineer