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Apple Watch Band Patent: Chiefly for giving info in Braille

Mayurchhanda Ghosh
Mayurchhanda Ghosh
An aspiring academic, freelance creative writer, theatre enthusiast, a part-time dreamer and a full-time learner.

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Today, a series of seventy-three granted patents have been officially published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for Apple Inc. However, a granted patent got skipped in the patent application route under “Apple” probably to maintain the secrecy as much as possible. Below is the news of that skipped granted patent.

With the onset of Apple to deliver Apple Watch 6, a technique containing patent has been granted to Apple. The patent includes techniques for delivering information to a user devoid of audio or visual outputs. Tactile outputs are being used by the watch band to convey notification to a user.

apple watch belt
Credit: Patently Apple

Initially, the user is expected to experience a haptic event on their wrist. This haptic event is then expected to be followed by a symbol or braille or both. The symbol or the braille is formed on the band of the watch in real-time. It is designed to allow the user to feel and know what the message is about.

The design is especially expected to help visually challenged people. The special design also assured the proper delivery of the message in real-time even if audio or visual outputs are wrong. The specially designed watch will enable the user to be reminded off of the important event, appointment, or meeting even if the alarm is turned off due to any reason. It will notify the user by forming a tactile symbol or haptic event.

The band of this upcoming Apple watch is made up of a computing component and a band is coupled to this computing component. An inner surface for contacting the outer surface opposite the inner surface as well as the tactile output mechanism is present in the band. These are designed to selectively form as well as omit tactile symbols.

apple watch band
Credit: Patently Apple

A mechanism for delivering tactile output through a band of a wearable electronic system involves receiving information from a computer component coupled to the band on a band including actuators programmed to selectively shape deformations along a banded surface and in response to receiving the information, causing a set of actuators to shape a pattern of deformations along the surface.

The figure below (Apple’s patent FIG. 1) is the figure which describes Apple Watch band’s mechanism of forming braille. The figures numbered 4A to 4B depict a user wearing a wearable electronic device.

Figure 3C and 3D are the figures of Apple’s patent which produces a plan view of an upcoming Apple Watch band. This watch band has touch-sensitive areas which will enable the user to identify braille, having the feature of changing with time.

Figure 5 shows the initial plan view of a wearable electronic device’s band. The figures showing partial intersectional views of the band having electrothermal actuators are numbered 6A-6B. in the same figures, Apple observes that the actuation material in the enclosed space may be selected in order to assure that the flexible material of the enclosed space is not deformed in a solid phase. Similarly, in the liquid phase, the actuation material is specially made to deform so that it forms braille when protruded outside.

As claimed by Apple, paraffin wax or other material having the similar characteristics of changing phase at a comparatively lower temperature can be used to make actuation material. The company further adds that a gas or any liquid which have the characteristic of expanding or contracting accordingly with the change in temperature can be used.

Apple further adds that the thermal actuators can be used wisely to produce tactile symbols with the help of hot, cold or both regions along the surface of a band. Similar to the protrusion, the hot and cold region may be utilised in the same way. To be precise, it can be assumed that they might as well be able to function as a tactile output mechanism. A patch of hot or cold (or both) region may be useful to form braille or other informative characters. The user then, just by touching with a finger, can sense the characters formed.

Two other examples are also provided to make it clear. First, Band’s actuators of the wearable item can also at times refrain from producing protrusion and can form a depression instead. Second, to convey time, regions of heat/cold/both may be generated along an inner surface of the band. Apart from conveying time, it will help the user to remember a certain event or measure the progress of a certain task.

While a future Apple Watch is the target device for this invention, Apple notes that other wearables could be targeted in the future such as a ring, glasses, gloves, a lanyard, belt, strap, connector, and the like. Apple’s granted patent was originally filed in Q3 2016 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office. ‘

Apart from the fact that an upcoming Apple Watch is probably the most aimed at the invention of times, other wearables, as observed by Apple, like a ring, glasses, gloves, lanyard, belt, strap or connector to mention few, can be aimed at in the coming days. This granted patent of Apple which the US Patent and Trademark Office published today was originally filed in Q3 2016.

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