Apple has secured a patent that could bring major changes to the company’s Apple Watch wearable.
The patent, called “Module functional band links for wearable devices,” describes a technology in which a wearable’s watchband links could come with several “electronic components,” including additional batteries and sensors that can track a person’s health. Perhaps more interestingly, the band links could feature touch displays and even cameras, allowing the wearable’s watchband to enhance the device’s functionality.
Like other companies, Apple (AAPL) is always filing patents on new technologies. And while it’s possible its patented technologies could come to a future device, it’s also possible they won’t. It’s impossible to say in which pile this latest patent might land.
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Regardless, the patent, which was earlier discovered by Apple-tracking site AppleInsider, suggests Apple is at least considering a major innovation to its Apple Watch. The wearable, which launched in 2015, comes with a touch display and support both Apple and third-party apps. While it can tell the time, it’s also capable of displaying notifications, tracking a person’s health, and even take calls. The device is equal parts smartwatch and health tracker.
Apple Watch comes with a slew of bands, but none of them come with additional features that could enhance the user experience. Instead, the bands are either functional, allowing users to wear them while they sweat and workout without worry of damage, or designed for style.
The latest Apple wearable patent, however, finds Apple looking for ways to bundle additional features into those bands. Apple apparently reasons that Apple Watch owners might be looking for additional functionality that would require hardware to drive those features. Since the Apple Watch case itself can only house so many components, utilizing the band to bundle additional components could be necessary.
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Apple’s patent also highlights the possibility of customization. The band links would come with different components that could be attached to each other. So, customers who wanted more health-tracking could get band links focused on activity and attach those to the Apple Watch, while others who want an additional display could attach that. Apple Watch’s features, in other words, could be customized to customer taste.
“Separate modular functional band links may work in combination,” Apple wrote in the patent. “For example, modular functional band links that include batteries and light emitting diodes (LEDs) may illustrate total power remaining among all batteries by the number of LEDs lit. By way of another example, camera and microphone included in separate modular functional band links that cooperate to record video.”
Last month, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published an Apple patent application that would move the Apple Watch’s vibration effect that alerts users to a notification or other information to the band. The move would make the Apple Watch case thinner and make the watchband more useful.