Apple looking to make Watch bands with wireless antennas

Posted:
in General Discussion
Future Apple Watches could have bands that act as wireless antennas to augment or replace ones within the the case. A new patent covers making flexible antennas that can be hidden within bands.

Detail from patent showing how an Apple Watch band with a wireless antenna could communicate with external devices
Detail from patent showing how an Apple Watch band with a wireless antenna could communicate with external devices


Alongside previous research into bands with sensors, Apple is investigating the use of bands for Apple Watch which contain wireless communication antennae. In a new patent application, Apple says that having the antenna outside of the Watch case could mean leaving more room inside for other components.

"In many traditional watches, neither the watch body nor any other device interacts with the watch band," explains Apple in US patent number 20190341677. " Instead, the watch body operates independently or does not interact with the watch band while communicating with any other external device. The operating components of the watch body can be protected within a rigid housing."

"However, it can be desirable to provide certain components outside the rigid housing to more effectively utilize the space within the housing," it continues. "It can also be desirable to position certain components at locations that are more accessible or that can be more effectively utilized when positioned outside the housing."

"For example, an antenna and appropriate control circuitry can be provided in a watch band, rather than in a watch body, to communicate with other devices," says the patent. "The antenna can be embedded within a body of the watch band to protect the antenna from an external environment [and the] embedded antenna can be concealed to enhance the aesthetic appearance of the watch band."

The patent describes issues around the need to a band to "stretch, bend and flex," plus details how the bands may be connected to the Watch.

Detail from patent drawings about how circuitry could be embedded within an Apple Watch band
Detail from patent drawings about how circuitry could be embedded within an Apple Watch band


Recently, Apple was granted a similar patent covering the embedding of electrical contacts with a band to help with charging.

It's also investigated having lights within bands to show activity information and in 2017 patented using electronics within the links of a metal bracelet band.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,496member
    There are just tons of opportunity here.  The Watch is highly constrained by space limitations -- but additional power, antennas and sensors could all be added once the band is made accessible to the watch body.   Another intriguing addition would be wireless integration with other sensors placed in strategic areas of the body such as in Airpods (body temp), bras (respiration), or embedded such as glucose monitors and other measurements of physiologic status such as electrolyte balances, pH, hydration, oxygenation, drug levels, etc., etc., etc., ...   All of which could be used for both medical and sports performance purposes.

    The possibilities are endless and mind boggling...
    razorpitn2itivguy
  • Reply 2 of 7
    FolioFolio Posts: 698member
    Health sensors, antennas.... I'll jump on the bandwagon. Ten years from now maybe a mini-fridge?
    razorpit
  • Reply 3 of 7
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    There are just tons of opportunity here.  The Watch is highly constrained by space limitations -- but additional power, antennas and sensors could all be added once the band is made accessible to the watch body.   Another intriguing addition would be wireless integration with other sensors placed in strategic areas of the body such as in Airpods (body temp), bras (respiration), or embedded such as glucose monitors and other measurements of physiologic status such as electrolyte balances, pH, hydration, oxygenation, drug levels, etc., etc., etc., ...   All of which could be used for both medical and sports performance purposes.

    The possibilities are endless and mind boggling...
    Genuinely surprised body temperature sensor wasn’t on this year’s version. My guess is when they get serious about sleep monitoring.
  • Reply 4 of 7
    There are just tons of opportunity here.  The Watch is highly constrained by space limitations -- but additional power, antennas and sensors could all be added once the band is made accessible to the watch body.   Another intriguing addition would be wireless integration with other sensors placed in strategic areas of the body such as in Airpods (body temp), bras (respiration), or embedded such as glucose monitors and other measurements of physiologic status such as electrolyte balances, pH, hydration, oxygenation, drug levels, etc., etc., etc., ...   All of which could be used for both medical and sports performance purposes.

    The possibilities are endless and mind boggling...
    Just like the possibilities with AR.

    Yet, none of it has happened yet. "These things take time" is just not the answer. Apple Watch has been out for 5 years, every other day there is an alleged patent for some new technology in the bands, and not a single thing has materialized. Not one.

    ARKit is also very far along now...still crickets on a single, useful, real world application.

    What is it that is stopping the real innovation from happening? It isn't for a lack of ideas. Something else is artificially interfering with the production of real, meaningful innovation in these products.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 5 of 7
    mobirdmobird Posts: 647member
    What happens when you don't like or want to use any of the watch bands? If they removed the "antenna and appropriate control circuitry" from the watch body would that not constrain the many options afforded watch owners?


  • Reply 6 of 7
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,694member
    There are just tons of opportunity here.  The Watch is highly constrained by space limitations -- but additional power, antennas and sensors could all be added once the band is made accessible to the watch body.   Another intriguing addition would be wireless integration with other sensors placed in strategic areas of the body such as in Airpods (body temp), bras (respiration), or embedded such as glucose monitors and other measurements of physiologic status such as electrolyte balances, pH, hydration, oxygenation, drug levels, etc., etc., etc., ...   All of which could be used for both medical and sports performance purposes.

    The possibilities are endless and mind boggling...
    Just like the possibilities with AR.

    Yet, none of it has happened yet. "These things take time" is just not the answer. Apple Watch has been out for 5 years, every other day there is an alleged patent for some new technology in the bands, and not a single thing has materialized. Not one.

    ARKit is also very far along now...still crickets on a single, useful, real world application.

    What is it that is stopping the real innovation from happening? It isn't for a lack of ideas. Something else is artificially interfering with the production of real, meaningful innovation in these products.
    And yet, today's AW does things the original didn't -- GPS, cellular, ECG, always-on display, etc. They happened. Clearly those features were higher priority. To suggest Apple isn't innovating or working on things is rather silly. It's a matter of priority. (And then there is the idea of defensive patents, patent warfare, etc.)
    GeorgeBMacrazorpitneo-techMplsP
  • Reply 7 of 7
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,359member
    There are just tons of opportunity here.  The Watch is highly constrained by space limitations -- but additional power, antennas and sensors could all be added once the band is made accessible to the watch body.   Another intriguing addition would be wireless integration with other sensors placed in strategic areas of the body such as in Airpods (body temp), bras (respiration), or embedded such as glucose monitors and other measurements of physiologic status such as electrolyte balances, pH, hydration, oxygenation, drug levels, etc., etc., etc., ...   All of which could be used for both medical and sports performance purposes.

    The possibilities are endless and mind boggling...
    Just like the possibilities with AR.

    Yet, none of it has happened yet. "These things take time" is just not the answer. Apple Watch has been out for 5 years, every other day there is an alleged patent for some new technology in the bands, and not a single thing has materialized. Not one.

    ARKit is also very far along now...still crickets on a single, useful, real world application.

    What is it that is stopping the real innovation from happening? It isn't for a lack of ideas. Something else is artificially interfering with the production of real, meaningful innovation in these products.
    And yet, today's AW does things the original didn't -- GPS, cellular, ECG, always-on display, etc. They happened. Clearly those features were higher priority. To suggest Apple isn't innovating or working on things is rather silly. It's a matter of priority. (And then there is the idea of defensive patents, patent warfare, etc.)
    Plus a lot of these sensors are not as easy as it would seem to implement. The original apple watch was good and subsequent versions have just gotten better. Yes, there are more possibilities, but I'm quite sure the current version isn't the last one, either.

    Putting the antenna in the band would be awesome. It would also increase the cost of the bands (the official Apple ones are already overpriced) and likely mean a significant cut in 3rd party bands.
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