Patently Apple reported yesterday that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) awarded Apple a bunch of new patents with three of them related to the Apple Watch. The first patent, titled Biometric Sensor for Acquiring Skin Texture Pattern Images, deals with the creation of a new biometric sensor for the popular smartwatch. The new sensor would be located on the inside portion of an Apple Watch band and would read the unique skin texture patterns on the user's wrist. Apple filed a patent application at the beginning of this year that covers the use of skin textures as a way to identify and verify an Apple Watch user. The company has been awarded patent number 10,398,370 for this technology.
The second Watch related patent granted to Apple has been given the number 10,401,800. The title of the patent is Indicators for Apple Watch Band and covers technology that adds backlit indicators to an Apple Watch band. The indicators could show icons related to the physical activities that the watch wearer is doing at the moment whether it is running, swimming or something else. The indicator could also show when the heart rate monitor or another health-related feature is being used.
The next Apple Watch, Series 5, is expected to be introduced on September 10th
The third patent is titled Apple Watch Band with Dynamic Fit Adjustment. Given the patent number of 10,398,200, the technology in the band allows it to automatically tighten up during workouts. This prevents the watch from falling off during physical activity. The band will also tighten up to assist Apple Watch wearers with the task of checking their pulse. In this scenario, the band will tighten up to the point where the pulse can be felt, and then ease up to prevent circulation from being choked off.
As with any Apple patent, we could see the innovation added to an upcoming device now, in the near future, or never. The company has a number of patents that it receives every year and many are never used on an Apple device.
The next iteration of the Apple Watch is expected to be unveiled during Apple's next new product event to be held on September 10th. The Series 5 timepiece is rumored to include a blood pressure monitor, which would be another good addition to the timepiece's suite of health-related features. There is the heart rate monitor and the electrocardiogram (ECG) that was added to the Series 4 model. The latter scans for an abnormal heartbeat that could be the result of atrial fibrillation (Afib). This is serious since it can lead to stroke, blood clots, heart failure, and death. Besides the possible blood pressure monitor, there is now speculation that the Series 5 watch will come with a native sleep monitoring app. Frankly, we weren't expecting this until next year.
If you recall, when the Apple Watch launched in 2015, Apple saw it as a device for the fashion conscious. It offered models like the 18-Karat gold Watch Edition with Hermes bands for $17,000. But it soon became clear that Apple's edge in the industry had nothing to do with fashion, but everything to do with health. And this strategy has paid off big time for the company. For the second quarter covering April through June, Apple shipped a leading 5.7 million timepieces globally, up from the 3.8 million it delivered during the same quarter last year. Apple had 46.4% of the market during the Q2, nearly three times the share owned by second-place Samsung. And as these patents show, the company continues to add innovations to the device to keep it at the cutting edge of personal health care. The Apple Watch has saved many lives already and we'd bet that as more and more new features are added, the timepiece will save a helluva lot more in the future.