Future Apple Watch straps could become significantly smarter, according to three newly released U.S. patent applications published today, Aug. 31. Each detail uses for advanced fabric manufacturing technology.
The first patent application, “Three-Dimensional Fabric With Embedded Input-Output Devices,” explains how the fabric on a watch band could include structures with pockets where electrical parts could reside. Possible hardware solutions include switches, buttons, touch pads, microphones, speakers, vibrators, cameras, status indicators, and more.
Meanwhile, the “Fabric With Embedded Electrical Components” patent filing explains a method for integrating a variety of components directly into woven materials. Mentioned are sensors, LEDs, transducers, and other microelectromechanical devices.
Finally, the third patent, “Fabric sensing device,” details a touch-sensitive textile device capable of detecting user touch or force. Watch bands, jackets, or other garments could feature these sensing devices.
Apple’s expected to announce the third-generation Apple Watch in just a few days. Whether bands based on these patents are announced at that time remains to be seen.
The three patents were filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in March 2017.