Patently Apple discovered another patent application from Apple in Europe today that covers next-gen Apple Watch bands with embedded circuitry. Apple notes that the bands could also double as stand-alone devices. Additionally, the invention covers possible future features for health and the ability to add alerts and emojis on the band's display and more.
According to Apple, the electrical components may be mounted on flexible printed circuits. A flexible printed circuit may be encapsulated by elastomeric polymer material or other material forming the band. Portions of the flexible printed circuit may have serpentine shapes to enhance flexibility and avoid metal trace cracking.
The elastomeric polymer material may form cavities that receive the electrical components. Electrical components such as light-emitting diodes may be mounted to the flexible printed circuit substrates so that the light-emitting diodes are located in the cavities. Reflective sidewalls in the cavities may reflect light from the light-emitting diodes outwardly through a thinned portion of the band. Light-diffusing material in the cavities may be formed from clear polymer with light-scattering particles.
Electrical components in the band may include buttons, touch sensors, and other input devices, may include sensors such as light sensors, temperature sensors, force sensors, humidity sensors, moisture sensors, particulate sensors, magnetic sensors, accelerometers, pressure sensors, physiological sensors, heart beat sensors, electrocardiogram electrodes for sensing electrocardiograms, ultraviolet light sensors, and other sensors. In some configurations, some electrical components such as sensors may face downwardly towards a user's wrist skin or other portion of a user's body and other electrical components such as light-emitting diodes may face outwardly towards a user's eyes.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 below is an Apple Watch with new band circuitry; FIG. 15 is a diagram showing how the flexible printed circuitry with connector contacts allow the flexible printed circuit to couple to mating contacts in a connector on a watch unit or other electrical device structure.
Apple's patent FIG. 17 above is a top view of an illustrative band and main unit in an electronic device showing how a buckle may be coupled to a band. The band may include a system-on-a-chip device; FIG. 19 is a top view of a portion of a band with a display and an electrocardiogram electrode that could be used for collecting other biometric data.
Apple notes that the technology built into a watch band could also be used in other future devices such as a wearable band, pendant, a device embedded in smartglasses, an HMD, a gaming device, or even automobile.
Apple further notes that during operation, the light-emitting diodes in the Apple Watch band could provide visual output such as alerts (e.g., timer alerts, incoming message alerts, etc.), emojis, messages, text, graphics, images, moving images, flashing lights or lights of particular colors or patterns of colors that serve as status indicators (e.g., power level indicators, wireless signal strength indicators, heart beats per minute readouts, an ultraviolet light exposure indicator (Apple won a patent for recently) and/or other suitable visual output.
A new health oriented feature Apple is contemplating is measuring a user's blood oxygen level. Using components that emit light may be emitted towards a user's finger and pass through a user's blood which may absorb the light in proportion to the amount of oxygen being carried by the user's blood. Using a photodetector in diodes, the light may be measured and the amount of absorbed light determined to produce a blood oxygen reading. The components in the band may form a pulse oximetry device.
Another future feature could include the ability to determine if a user is dehydrated.
The band may be able to gather user input via taps, swipes, force touch or other gesture input.
Apple's patent application was originally filed back in Q2 2018 and published in Europe on November 22, 2018. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
Apple has been working on smart Apple Watch bands for years. Below you'll find a few of the other patent reports supporting this ongoing project:
01: Apple Wins a Patent for a Future FaceTime Calling Apple Watch System with Multiple Cameras to stabilize Video
02: Apple Patent Points to Face ID coming to Apple Watch along with Band Sensors to Analyze Sports Performance and more
03: Apple Exploring Next-Gen Apple Watch Smart Bands for Sports Enthusiasts
04: Grand Apple Patent Covers a Smart Chameleonic Apple Watch Band with 3D Touch, Liquid Cooling & More
05: Apple Invents an Apple Watch Band with Individual Smart Links that Could Add New Functionality