Apple investigating self-adjusting Apple Watch bands

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2017
Apple on Tuesday was granted a U.S. patent describing multiple methods of creating a self-adjusting Apple Watch band, designs that could one day replace magnetic clasps, velcro and other fasteners seen in current generation hardware.


Source: USPTO


As assigned by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple's U.S. Patent No. 9,781,984 for "Dynamic fit adjustment for wearable electronic devices" details methods in which a wearable device, like Apple Watch, can tighten or loosen an attached strap via an onboard tensioner.

Apple in its document notes conventional watch bands are cumbersome, require multiple steps to achieve a desired fit, necessitate specialized tools or are otherwise inconvenient to adjust. Additionally, traditional methods often fail to offer size increments suitable for all users, leading to an imperfect fit.

Aside from being uncomfortable, less than ideal sizing could negatively impact Apple Watch sensor readings, from the bespoke heart rate sensor to data collected by sensitive accelerometers. The effect can become pronounced during exercise, for example, when the device may become loose due to sweat and repeated motion.

To facilitate ease-of-use and device efficiency, Apple proposes a system capable of automatically, or at a user's request, adjusting band sizing through a tensioner mechanism.

The document details a number of potential solutions for system tensioning including embedded shape memory wire, an internal ratcheting apparatus, gas or fluid bladders (standalone or built into the strap), retractable band elements and extendable portions of the device housing. With the latter method, a portion or portions of an Apple Watch chassis, or alternatively its band, extend out toward a user's skin, thereby tightening the band's fit.




Multiple function modes are paired with each tensioning method, the most prevalent being tightening and loosening, or more accurately contracting and expanding. For certain embodiments, specifically those in which a band's material can affect fit, the patent describes flexibility and rigid modes that serve roughly the same purpose as tightening and loosening operations.

In some embodiments, the tensioner mechanism is automatically activated based on a set of predetermined criteria which can include user detection via the biometric sensor stack. Other methods allow for user customization through an onscreen UI. For example, users can select from set fit levels or instruct the device to make its band tighter or looser.




Whether Apple will integrate the technology into a future Apple Watch device remains unknown, but the company continues to roll out new band style, the most recent being the hook-and-loop Sport Loop. With a renewed focus on health and fitness, an automatically adjustable band would be a boon for users looking not only for a better fit, but more accurate sensor readings.

As can be expected, the patent jibes with Apple's current strap offerings. The Sport Band with pin-and-tuck closure can be retrofitted to incorporate an adjustable mechanism in its pin hardware, for example, while woven nylon and metal link designs might benefit from Nitinol wire that tightens or collapses with applied electrical current.

Apple's dynamically adjustable Apple Watch band patent was first applied for in April 2015 and credits Andrzej T. Baranski, Serhan O. Isikman, Tyler S. Bushnell, Steven J. Martisauskas and David I. Nazzaro as its inventors.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    SoliSoli Posts: 6,202member
    Maybe I'm asking for too much, but this is how I'd like Apple's future wearables to self adjust.


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  • Reply 2 of 13
    Or you could go low-tech. Does anyone remember Speidel Twist-O-Flex bands? Your dad probably had one...

    http://www.speidel.com/index.php/00139902.html
    randominternetperson
  • Reply 3 of 13
    Great. This may save Apple employees so much time they can figure out to put the right power adapter in an iPhone box.
  • Reply 4 of 13
    takeotakeo Posts: 414member
    "unapologetically elastic" – Future Jony Ive
  • Reply 5 of 13
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,319member
    I would wager that Apple makes more profit off of their AW bands than all other smart watch vendors make in aggregate profit...
    watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 6 of 13
    tjwolftjwolf Posts: 186member
    Or you could go low-tech. Does anyone remember Speidel Twist-O-Flex bands? Your dad probably had one...

    http://www.speidel.com/index.php/00139902.html
    I guess I'm such a dad.  I don't know if it was this brand (I grew up in Germany), but I definitely know the kind.  I remember not liking them because arm hair had a tendency to get caught in between the links.
    randominternetperson
  • Reply 7 of 13
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 3,886member
    Now if they could only investigate color changing crowns.....
  • Reply 8 of 13
    Soli said:
    Maybe I'm asking for too much, but this is how I'd like Apple's future wearables to self adjust.
    I'd be fine with something like Back To The Future's self-sizing clothes first.
  • Reply 9 of 13
    SoliSoli Posts: 6,202member
    Soli said:
    Maybe I'm asking for too much, but this is how I'd like Apple's future wearables to self adjust.
    I'd be fine with something like Back To The Future's self-sizing clothes first.
    The self-adjusting clothes and shoes from Back to the Future 2 are what first came to mind.
  • Reply 10 of 13
    macxpress said:
    Now if they could only investigate color changing crowns.....
    LOL  yep. 
  • Reply 11 of 13
    brucemc said:
    I would wager that Apple makes more profit off of their AW bands than all other smart watch vendors make in aggregate profit...
    I think Apple was very, very smart in making the band part of the apple watch experience. They no doubt make a huge profit off of the bands.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 13
    Or you could go low-tech. Does anyone remember Speidel Twist-O-Flex bands? Your dad probably had one...

    http://www.speidel.com/index.php/00139902.html
    As I recall back then, the thing about the old ones was that they would gradually lose tension after a few months of use. But they did have a rather catchy commercial.


  • Reply 13 of 13
    Meh. Apple, this is all quite nice, but please make sure that the back of the Watch doesn't fall off. I am on my third Series 0 whose back has now come unglued. 

    Back to the phones and waiting for the box...
    edited October 2017
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