Technology

Patent Suggests Apple Watch May Get Smart Bands One Day

Apple Watch band's led indicator
fancycrave1 / Pixabay

Apple is always looking for ways to add more capabilities to its Apple Watch, and it seems future-gen Apple Watch models could have smart bands to help users with fitness tracking. A recent patent describes an Apple Watch band’s LED indicator.

Making bands smart

Apple’s new patent is titled “Indicators for wearable electronic devices.” The patent details how watch bands can be modified to provide status visuals more quickly using a series of LED notification lights fitted strategically into it.

Apple’s patent, which was published on Tuesday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), focuses on watch bands featuring LED indicators. The LED indicators tell the status of certain activities so users don’t have to look at the device’s main display every time. For instance, if a user is tracking their daily step count, the Apple Watch band’s LED indicator could be configured to fill up part of the band with a particular light to show how close they are to the goal.

Further, the patent explains that certain sections of the LED cluster array could show different brightness levels based on user requirements. Such an indicator could suggest a user-specified goal for a variety of activities.

Additionally, the patent notes that the LED indicators can be clustered into different shapes like a circle, triangle or any other shape. These indicators would mostly be on the external flat side of the band, but the patent also talks about potentially putting illuminations on the sides.

How might the Apple Watch band’s LED indicator help?

It must be noted that the Apple Watch band’s LED indicator as described would not be an additional function; rather, it’s a way to make the experience a lot more convenient for the user. Despite the smart bands, the Apple Watch will still be doing all the heavy-duty activity monitoring. Moreover, the watch will have to send commands to the band to trigger indicators at user-specified times or levels.

Additionally, the company points out that the Apple Watch band’s LED indicator could help boost the watch’s battery life. With indicators providing users the needed information, they won’t have to turn on the device’s bright screen each time to check the status of their activity.

The patent also suggests that providing information via the band could help keep the user’s data private. For instance, a user might not want to see data on the display in a way that’s visible to others around them. In such a case, a simple indicator on the band could provide the needed data in a way only the user would know what it means.

Other Apple Watch patents

Apple’s latest patent is another hint of what future Apple Watch models might come with. However, there is no information on when such smart bands could debut, as this is just a patent for now. A patent is no surety the company will actually pursue the concept either. Apple has filed numerous patents that haven’t yet made it to a final product.

For example, in January 2017, Apple got a patent for modular Apple Watch accessories featuring sensors, batteries, and other components. Then in October 2017, the company was granted a patent for self-adjusting Apple Watch bands. Such bands will automatically adjust their grip on the wrist to accurately record the user’s pulse.

Apple has been reported to be working on adding many more features to the watch, like a system to detect if a user has applied enough sunscreen or a glucose monitoring system. In August, Apple was granted a patent suggesting it’s working on a non-invasive glucose monitoring solution.

This Apple patent titled “Reference switch architectures for noncontact sensing of substances” focused on ways to calibrate an electronic device to study the concentration of a specific substance in a given sample. Specifically, the patent detailed a method to perform absorption spectroscopy, a technique to determine the concentration of a substance by applying light with certain properties to a sample. As the light goes through the sample, the target substance would absorb the energy at certain wavelengths, leading to a change in the light’s properties.