As of now, the days of magnetic clasps, velcro, and other fastening mechanisms used in the current generation’s watch bands seem to end. As Apple was granted a U.S. patent, the organization is rumored to have proposed multiple methods of creating a self-adjustable Apple watch band that can tighten or loosen via an onboard tensioner.
According to USPTO, Apple is assigned ‘Dynamic fit adjustment for wearable electronic devices’ by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office with U.S. Patent No. 9,781,984.
Apple has pointed out various drawbacks in the technology which is currently being used. The procedures are complicated and complex, and it even requires special tools to adjust the fitting. Even after all these, they don’t always exhibit the expected outcome, leading to improper fittings. This can negatively impact the performance of the sensors, such as the bespoke heart rate sensor or accelerometers. These impacts become prominent when the user is going through exercise sessions, causing sweat & repeated motions that tend to loosen the watch.
Apple’s proposal promises an inbuilt tensioner mechanism that includes embedded shape-memory wire, an internal ratcheting apparatus, and gas or fluid bladders, which are either standalone or inbuilt & retractable band elements. It may also contain extendable portions in the devise housing, which will help portions of the watch chassis or the band to extend out towards the user’s skin resulting in the tightening of the band. It also boasts of manual function modes such as tightening and loosening, which will cause expansion and contraction, which can work in automatic mode in coordination with the biometric sensor stack. The users can customize all these via an onscreen UI.
Though the application of this technology is yet to be seen, it definitely sounds really interesting as it’ll cause a better fit. It improves the sensor performances as well. Rumors are that the Apple sports band with pin & tuck mechanism may be replaced by something like a woven nylon & metal link design built using Nitinol wire that stretches or contracts with the applied electric current.
This patent was first applied in April 2015 by Andrzej T. Baranski, Serhan O. Isikman, Tyler S. Bushnell, Steven J. Martisauskas & David I. Nazzaro as its inventors. It took this long mainly due to the lack of promising technological advancements. But with recent improvements and the assignment of this patent, Apple users have every right to be excited as they have something new to ‘watch’ out for.