Apple investigating replaceable Apple Watch battery packs

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited April 17
Apple is still considering ways to make the Apple Watch more useful, with one idea consisting of adding extra sensors, batteries, and other components to the wearable device, using exchangeable backplates that clip to the back using the same slots at the top and bottom used to connect the Watch Band.

Apple Watch heart rate


Adding extra hardware to an Apple Watch is difficult, due to the relative lack of attachment points available on the compact and sleek wearable device. Apple has come up with a way to use the band slots, used to affix watch straps to the Apple Watch, to hold a rear plate in place.

Granted today, Apple's patent for an "Auxiliary electronic device attachable to a wearable electronic device" shows how an add-on plate could be placed on the Apple Watch rear, while two sections on either end extend to fit into the band slots. In order to keep the Apple Watch wearable, the extended sections include their own slots for the band to fit inside.

Apple Watch expansion upgrade patent


This arrangement gives the effect of minimal changes to the appearance of the Apple Watch when viewed from the front, but while it will make the entire assembly thicker, the extra plate section will be partially hidden from view due to being placed between the Apple Watch and the user's wrist.

To help keep the back plate in place, the patent suggests the use of an alignment magnet to maintain its position, allowing for any connections it makes with the host Apple Watch to optimally function.

Apple suggests this style of add-on could help add more functions to the Apple Watch that aren't normally offered, with the example giving involving adding GPS functionality. The Apple Watch has included GPS-style capabilities since the release of the Series 2 device line, so GPS is unlikely to be used in this case, but it does illustrate how the wearable device can be expanded using non-standard sensors.

More interestingly, one embodiment described in the patent is to use this extra back plate as a way to extend the battery life of the Apple Watch. The plate contains wireless charging coils and a battery, allowing it to be recharged at the same time as the attached Apple Watch.

The same coils could then be used to provide power to the Apple Watch when it is running low, acting in a similar way to how a battery-equipped case could be used to recharge an iPhone while on the move.

Apple Watch expansion upgrade patent add-on


Apple's patent was originally filed on February 26, 2015, and credits David Nazzaro, Tyler Bushnell, and Javier Mendez for its creation.

It is unknown if Apple will start using such technology at some point, as Apple's employees file a large number of patent applications each week, and not all of the ideas end up in commercial products.

Apple has previously come up with a number of ideas to elaborate on the Apple Watch concept, including modular smart bands that could house extra sensors and components, instead of keeping them within the Apple Watch's main body. Rumors of such upgrade options have been around for a while, including speculation in May last year that Apple could add glucose monitoring to the Apple Watch using a smart band or similar concept.

Apple has also looked at how the Apple Watch can be worn by the user, receiving a patent in October 2017 for self-adjusting bands. The patent describes how a band can be automatically tightened to better fit the user, with the onboard tensioner helping improve data collected by the various onboard sensors.

Other firms have explored the idea of expanding the utility of the Apple Watch, but so far no-one has come up with a finished product, though one company seemed to come close before Apple made changes to watchOS. San Antonio startup WiseWear accused Apple of foul play when it filed for bankruptcy in March, claiming the deactivation of the Apple Watch diagnostic port hidden in one Watch Band slot effectively devalued a patent it had acquired relating to a smart band accessory for the device.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    viclauyycviclauyyc Posts: 281member
    Pretty sure this be won’t happen. Apple is not famous for either customization or upgradability. 
    If apple want you to upgrade your watch, that means they want you buy a new one.
    repressthisbrian greenGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 2 of 11
    mavemufcmavemufc Posts: 326member
    Could see maybe another battery being added but other than that I don’t see the point in much else.
    repressthis
  • Reply 3 of 11
    viclauyyc said:
    Pretty sure this be won’t happen. Apple is not famous for either customization or upgradability. 
    If apple want you to upgrade your watch, that means they want you buy a new one.
    they DID do a battery case for iPhone. 

    I'm not sure you could add much in that location without making it annoyingly bulky.
  • Reply 4 of 11
    viclauyyc said:
    Pretty sure this be won’t happen. Apple is not famous for either customization or upgradability. 
    If apple want you to upgrade your watch, that means they want you buy a new one.
    I thought the same, but their Mac Pro is supposed to be upgradable and customizable. It could be a different direction 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 11
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,114member
    viclauyyc said:
    Pretty sure this be won’t happen. Apple is not famous for either customization or upgradability. 
    If apple want you to upgrade your watch, that means they want you buy a new one.
    I thought the same, but their Mac Pro is supposed to be upgradable and customizable. It could be a different direction 
    For the very limited mac pro line.
    repressthis
  • Reply 6 of 11

    If this means the watch is thinner out of the box with no accessory plate then I'm finally getting an apple watch.

    repressthis
  • Reply 7 of 11
    roakeroake Posts: 583member
    Just because our imagination is limited doesn’t mean that there Apple doesn’t have great ideas for this.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 11
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,432member
    A smart band interface that uses the same location on the AW as current band connectors, but updated with contacts for power and data (like the smart keyboard cases on iPad Pro), would seem a better path.  This brings forward a whole new area for Apple and 3rd parties to provide new value.  Such smart bands could provide battery power and additional sensors.

    Existing and other non-smart bands would still work - just not have the contacts for the smart connector.

    Seems doable for Apple.
    watto_cobraGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 9 of 11
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 1,727member
    viclauyyc said:
    Pretty sure this be won’t happen. Apple is not famous for either customization or upgradability. 
    If apple want you to upgrade your watch, that means they want you buy a new one.
    I thought the same, but their Mac Pro is supposed to be upgradable and customizable. It could be a different direction 
    Nobody knows that. 
  • Reply 10 of 11
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,742member
    This patent is over 3 years old? 

    In addition, it appears that it would require separate watch bands with smaller end tabs...

    And, when you overlay the HR sensor with something else, you tend to lose one of the most important components of the watch....

    If Apple wanted to add sensors, I doubt they would go this way.  Adding them to a watch band and connected via the existing "diagnostic" port makes more sense.
  • Reply 11 of 11
    19831983 Posts: 1,085member
    Doesn’t seem very elegant, adding bulk and weight to an already chunky watch. Ever since the series 1 there’s been that covered port hidden underneath one of the strap lugs. Why don’t they use that to connect external sensors/batteries and other components via custom bands. More surface area to work with than bulky additional backplates.
    GeorgeBMac
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