Apple Reinvents the Watch Band with Auto Adjustment+
Apple's engineering team for Apple Watch had the opportunity this week to see the fruits of their labor come to life in the form of Apple Watch Series 2 at the Apple Event on Wednesday. There were many refinements announced including the addition of GPS, doubling the brightness of the display, vastly improving its waterproofing and more. One of Apple's latest Apple Watch inventions came to life the very day after the Apple event and introduced us to a whole new Apple Watch band system that will allow owners of the Apple Watch to dynamically adjust the fit of their watch band through a simple automated system. The perfect fit will be achieved for your leisurely times or when you crank up your workout and need your watch band to hug your wrist like its one with you as you move. It will even assist users to take their pulse by tightening the band to perfection to get that biometric reading just where it has to be and then automatically back off so as to not choke the circulation to your wrist. It's about taking the Apple Watch experience to the next level where it'll further separate itself from the competition's toys. It's not just about giving the Apple Watch bands some smarts – it's about giving the Apple Watch bands some attitude that only comes from being the best.
Apple's Patent Background
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.). Still other bands may be elasticated expansion-type bands that stretch to fit around 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.
So ideally, a user is likely to want a looser fit when a smartwatch is in timekeeping mode and a tighter fit when they're about to engage in fitness/health or tracking mode. This is the new solution that Apple brings to the table with their latest invention.
Apple's invention takes form of a method of adjusting the fit of a future Apple Watch band automatically. It's a band system will send a message to its new owner on how to adjust the fit when it's first put on. A selection of desired fits will be provided and the user will be able to choose a tightening mode, loosening mode, flexibility mode, rigid mode and others. Once a mode is chosen, the device's tensioner will adjust the watch band accordingly and automatically.
Apple's patent FIG. 3A presented below depicts a simplified block diagram of a wearable electronic device and its various components; FIG. 3B depicts an owner of a future Apple Watch choosing an instruction that will automatically adjust the fit of the watch band; FIG. 4A depicts a top plan view of an example Apple Watch with a two-piece band system configured to contract along its length in response to an electrical signal from a tensioner; and FIG. 4B depicts a top plan view of the example wearable electronic device of FIG. 4A, showing the two-piece band system in a contracted configuration.
In Apple's patent FIG. 25 noted above we're able to see a simple flow chart that depicts example operations of a method of dynamically adjusting the fit of a future Apple Watch as a means of soliciting a user's attention.
Pin and Eyelet and Interlacing Band System
Apple's patent FIG. 21A noted above depicts a top plan view of a future Apple Watch with a pin and eyelet and interlacing band system configured such that the pin moves along the longitudinal axis of the band system in response to an electrical signal sent from a tensioner.
As illustrated, a first band #2102 and a second band #2104 can be overlapped in order to form a closed loop around a user's wrist. The first band can be coupled to the second band via a pin and eyelet attachment mechanism.
In this embodiment, an actuator #2108 can be coupled to the eyelet, which itself can be coupled to the tensioner. In response to an instruction to loosen or tighten the fit of the Apple Watch band, the tensioner can cause the actuator to move the eyelet along the longitudinal axis of the second band. In this manner, the actuator can achieve the adjustment A7, as shown for example in FIG. 21B above.
A Wide Variety of Contracting Apple Watch Bands
Apple's patent FIG. 6A noted above depicts a top plan view of an Apple Watch with a segmented band system configured to contract along its length in response to an electrical signal from a tensioner; FIG. 6B shows the segmented band system in a contracted configuration; FIG. 7A depicts a top plan view of an Apple Watch with a woven band system configured to contract along its length and/or width in response to an electrical signal from a tensioner; FIG. 7B depicts a detailed view of the band material; and FIG. 7C shows the woven band system in a contracted configuration.
It would appear that most of Apple's current styled watch bands will be available with this new feature in the future should Apple proceed with this project.
New Bladder-Styled Apple Watch Band
Deeper into the patent filing, Apple introduces us to a new Apple Watch band that they call a bladder-style band. This band could inflate or deflate as needed and a controller sets the amount of liquid or gas required to achieve the right user fit.
Perfect Band Control for Biometric Use
And finally, Apple's patent FIG. 24 noted above illustrates a flow chart that depicts an example operation of a method of dynamically adjusting the fit of a future Apple Watch prior to obtaining biometric data with a biometric sensor. In this example, the user wants to obtain their pulse rate, perhaps after a run. The user will open up the Apple Watch band fitting app, tap the biometrics option, tap on pulse rate and the band will automatically contract just enough to get a proper pulse rate reading. Once obtained, the band will automatically retract to its last setting.
Apple patent application 20160255944 was originally filed in Q2 2015. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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