Next-gen Apple Watch models to integrate solid-state buttons & EKG functions, report says

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited June 8
According to a fresh rumor, Apple is planning to do away with movable switch controls on Apple Watch devices and will in a future release integrate solid-state buttons that rely on Taptic Engine technology to simulate clicks. The buttons also include capacitive elements for advanced health monitoring capabilities.

Apple Watch Series 3


Citing a source familiar with Apple's plans, Fast Company reports a next-generation Apple Watch will carry over the same button layout as current devices, with two active physical controls in the side button and digital crown.

Instead of existing movable switches, however, the device will integrate solid-state buttons that simulate physical presses using Apple's Taptic Engine haptic feedback technology.

First integrated in the original Apple Watch, the Taptic Engine is a specialized linear actuator capable of transforming advanced control signals into a wide range of feedback models. The part's magnetic drivers can start and stop movement of the large internal weight with extreme precision, allowing for highly customized haptic sensations, from light taps to extended vibrations.

In Apple Watch, Taptic currently replicates taps, vibrations and even a human heart beat. The technology was later transferred to iPhone as a replacement for the handset's traditional physical home button before making its way into MacBook trackpads.

A solid-state solution not only enhances hardware longevity, but enables Apple designers to create a more water-resistant Watch since the buttons do not require enlarged chassis cutouts to handle constant motion. The lack of physical switches also frees up precious internal space that will go toward a larger battery, the report said.

Whether the new button technology will make its way into an Apple Watch refresh expected to debut later this year is unknown. If the design is a no-show in 2018, it will likely see introduction next year, sources said.

In addition, Apple is also working to incorporate capacitive sensing technology into the new button system in a bid to boost Watch's health monitoring capabilities. According to source, the design enables a second point of contact for the collection of electrical signals flowing through a user's body.

While not detailed, the rumored system might be akin to AliveCor's Kardia Band EKG. That accessory includes two sensors, one on the inside of the band that stays in contact with a wearer's wrist, and another outside that interacts with a finger from their free hand. Sending a current between the sensors and across a user's chest results in an EKG reading.

Apple was said to be developing in-house Apple Watch EKG prototypeslate last year, though reports at the time suggested the required capacitive elements would be integrated into the device's chassis, not buttons.

Finally, today's report claims Apple engineers are working toward an Apple Watch that removes physical buttons altogether. Instead, users interact with specific areas of the device body, presumably linked to capacitive touch sensing modules, to navigate an onscreen interface.

Apple is widely rumored to launch its first Apple Watch redesign with larger display, improved battery and enhanced health monitoring features later this year. The popular wearable product line has not seen an aesthetic revamp since its launch in 2015.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 49
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,424member
    Reminds me of a SG1 episode. 
  • Reply 2 of 49
    larryalarrya Posts: 489member
    Really wish they could keep one physical button to start/stop runs when fingers are sweaty. 
    ramanpfaffrepressthisGeorgeBMachodar
  • Reply 3 of 49
    asciiascii Posts: 5,628member
    I wish they would add some kind of feedback (taptic or otherwise) to the AirPods buttons, those are horrible.
    claire1
  • Reply 4 of 49
    So tough to deal with the watch when you are drenched in a humid day after a run. Just stopping the activity is rough. They have to work on that sort of thing, no matter what the technology. 
    irelandGeorgeBMaclibertyforallwlymSendMcjakAlex1Nadm1airnerdhodar
  • Reply 5 of 49
    roakeroake Posts: 550member
    ascii said:
    I wish they would add some kind of feedback (taptic or otherwise) to the AirPods buttons, those are horrible.
    The AirPods have buttons?
    revenantihatescreennamesStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 49
    asciiascii Posts: 5,628member
    roake said:
    ascii said:
    I wish they would add some kind of feedback (taptic or otherwise) to the AirPods buttons, those are horrible.
    The AirPods have buttons?
    If you double-tap on them it can launch customisable functions (such as Siri).
    Alex1N
  • Reply 7 of 49
    matrix077matrix077 Posts: 403member
    So tough to deal with the watch when you are drenched in a humid day after a run. Just stopping the activity is rough. They have to work on that sort of thing, no matter what the technology. 
    Press on the crown & side button at the same time to pause it. Wipe your hand, then stop your workout any time you’d like. 
    repressthisStrangeDaysking editor the gratemelgrosscaladanianwlymSendMcjakairnerdhodarwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 49
    JayVeeJayVee Posts: 6member
    I'm hoping for the long rumoured Blood Glucose Level detection, that would make it an instant buy for myself, and I'd buy a few for a bunch of family members and friends, too! I've held off from purchasing an Apple Watch as I'd love to have more health sensors.  Hopefully we'll get a pleasant surprise in September!
    libertyforallSendMcjakTomEhodarwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 49
    bluefire1bluefire1 Posts: 779member
    I love my AW3 but this next generation model will be on my wrist as soon as it's released.
    What companies can we sell our Apple Watch 3 and older models? 
    edited June 9 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 49
    irelandireland Posts: 17,128member
    Just don’t read the comments on this story over on MR. What a bunch of entitled whining, know it all, know nothing, babies. I swear, if the users over there won the lottery they’d complain that the amount the won wasn’t an even number.
    edited June 9 StrangeDaysking editor the gratecaladaniancornchipAlex1Nwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 11 of 49
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 2,247member
    So tough to deal with the watch when you are drenched in a humid day after a run. Just stopping the activity is rough. They have to work on that sort of thing, no matter what the technology. 
    Yeh, Or, even worse, if it's raining out.  The touch screen doesn't work for crap.

    Actually, that's one of several reasons why serious athletes/runners commonly choose Garmins over Apple Watch.  It's controlled by physical buttons instead of a capacitive touch screen that work much better under stress and adverse conditions.  

    With Apple pushing their Watch further into the exercise realm, they should no longer be ignoring that limitation -- much less expanding it.
    libertyforalllarryaAlex1N
  • Reply 12 of 49
    Yeah right!
    and will this new design also be not upgradable after 2years like with iOS12?
    all these thousands of users that purchased  the first generation are now left in the cold!
  • Reply 13 of 49
    matrix077 said:
    So tough to deal with the watch when you are drenched in a humid day after a run. Just stopping the activity is rough. They have to work on that sort of thing, no matter what the technology. 
    Press on the crown & side button at the same time to pause it. Wipe your hand, then stop your workout any time you’d like. 
    Really? Huh, good to know. Guessing this is just for Apples Workout app right? I use Strava and would love to have a physical pause button for these sweaty situations and for winter when my “touchscreen” gloves aren’t playing nice. I’ve considered switching to Apples’ app. The UI looks great and I generally just like to use first party solutions when possible. The holdback with Workout though is the lack of a web portal or something like that for viewing stats, running reports, etc. unless I’m missing something. From what I can tell it just dumps them into Activity and the info you can view there is pretty limited 
    libertyforallGeorgeBMacAlex1N
  • Reply 14 of 49
    lukeilukei Posts: 316member
    elfig2012 said:
    Yeah right!
    and will this new design also be not upgradable after 2years like with iOS12?
    all these thousands of users that purchased  the first generation are now left in the cold!
    No they aren’t 
      They have a fully functioning watch that did more than they originally thought it did when they bought it due to subsequent upgrades 
    libertyforallStrangeDaysking editor the graterepressthiscornchipelfig2012TomEAlex1Nhodarwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 49
    esaruohoesaruoho Posts: 53member
    A friend just asked me why I don't have an Apple Watch yet. I was thinking "well, it's a bit expensive". Then I see an article like this - with brand new features incoming, and that is actually a better reason: "there'll be more features soon, so why buy now?" Guess I'm not the only one.
    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 49
    esaruoho said:
    A friend just asked me why I don't have an Apple Watch yet. I was thinking "well, it's a bit expensive". Then I see an article like this - with brand new features incoming, and that is actually a better reason: "there'll be more features soon, so why buy now?" Guess I'm not the only one.
    The nature of technology is that it's constantly moving forward. Fort that reason you can never wait until it has reached its zenith unless you want to buy something that is EOL. :-)
    StrangeDaysrepressthisGeorgeBMacAlex1Nhodarwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 49
    libertyforalllibertyforall Posts: 1,167member
    Nice, and the other thing missing include a camera for stools & FaceTime...
  • Reply 18 of 49
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 4,769member
    ascii said:
    roake said:
    ascii said:
    I wish they would add some kind of feedback (taptic or otherwise) to the AirPods buttons, those are horrible.
    The AirPods have buttons?
    If you double-tap on them it can launch customisable functions (such as Siri).
    Not a button. The entire units themselves are respondent to impact/taps. 
    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 49
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 4,769member

    ireland said:
    Just don’t read the comments on this story over on MR. What a bunch of entitled whining, know it all, know nothing, babies. I swear, if the users over there won the lottery they’d complain that the amount the won wasn’t an even number.
    Agreed, it’s quite disgusting what MR has let itself become the past several years. their mods punish people who call out the insanity while rewarding the howling trolls. i don’t go anymore unless i want to remind himself how ot of touch so many techie incels are. 
    cornchipclaire1Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 49
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 4,769member

    So tough to deal with the watch when you are drenched in a humid day after a run. Just stopping the activity is rough. They have to work on that sort of thing, no matter what the technology. 
    Yeh, Or, even worse, if it's raining out.  The touch screen doesn't work for crap.

    Actually, that's one of several reasons why serious athletes/runners commonly choose Garmins over Apple Watch.  It's controlled by physical buttons instead of a capacitive touch screen that work much better under stress and adverse conditions.  

    With Apple pushing their Watch further into the exercise realm, they should no longer be ignoring that limitation -- much less expanding it.
    I’ve never heard that reason cited before, ever. Battery life, yes, but never the claim that the AW can’t be controlled by physical buttons, since, you know, it can. Link?
    watto_cobra
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