Apple is continuing to explore ways to improve the Apple Watch via bands, including adding an extra battery to the strap, as well as a fabric band capable of handling various fitness tracking capabilities.
The Apple Watch is already a very capable wearable device, with it housing a collection of accelerometers and other sensors to enable it to monitor the health of the user, among other tasks. Packing all of these features into a confined space is a design challenge, as at some point it will be extremely difficult to add more components without increasing the size of the casing somehow.
Apple believes it can get around that limitation, by placing some of the components outside of the main Apple Watch unit itself and taking advantage of the free space offered by watch bands and straps. These elements are not currently electrically connected to the Apple Watch, and for the moment serve only to affix the device to the user’s wrist, but Apple envisions giving them extra capabilities.
According to a pair of patents granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, Apple’s intentions cover expanding the battery life of the Apple Watch, as well as adding more sensors.
Battery watch band
The first of the two patents, simply titled “Battery watch band,” is pretty straightforward in terms of what it offers. In effect, it’s a watch band that can house multiple batteries, which is connected to the Apple Watch in some way.
Apple’s suggestion is for the band to include multiple battery cells running parallel to each other, and fitting along the watch band section that goes down the wrist, as viewed by the user. By using multiple batteries that are slightly spaced apart, the band will still be able to flex and move without worrying about physically fatiguing the batteries.
The band itself would have an inner frame with slots to receive the batteries, complete with tapered projections to protect the battery while slimming down the bulk going towards the sides of the band. An outer cover is employed over the entire assembly. Each of the batteries are also physically isolated from each other, which could potentially allow for simpler replacements during servicing.
The batteries are connected to the Apple Watch by pins within the connector, which slides into the slot at the base of the main unit. Induction coils are mentioned for recharging the batteries, with one battery having the coil wrapped around it and used to recharge all of the cells in the band.
While the main description relates to a typical flexible watch band made from rubber, silicone, or other similar material, Apple also proposes the same thing could be accomplished with a metal watch band. In that particular case, the batteries are held within individual links, encased in an elastomer.
The patent lists its inventors as Michael