The Apple Watch is already a powerful tool for keeping you connected, healthy and safe. But by the looks of a slew of patents, Apple has much more in the works for its flagship wearable.
While new innovations described in Apple patents don’t always end up being used in an end product, Apple may have an incentive to incorporate these features into a future wearable due to the Apple Watch’s incredible success and popularity. With that in mind, continue reading to browse seven crazy features that a future Apple Watch might have.
Your Apple Watch has a few distinct parts. There’s the actual watch case, which also contains the display, and then there are the removable watch straps. That’s the way the Apple Watch has been since its debut, but Apple may be looking to develop technology that would blur the line between watch strap and watch face.
Specifically, a patent from 2017 hints at flexible display panels that could essentially wrap around your wrist. That would obviously increase the display area of your device, but it could also lead to other clever uses. That may include touchscreens embedded within Apple Watch bands or within other pieces of clothing.
Low Blood Sugar ‘Sniffer’
Sensors are the lifeblood of the Apple Watch’s health and safety tracking, but Apple is looking beyond the heart sensor. While the company is thought to be developing some type of noninvasive glucose monitor, it patented a unique technology last year that could potentially “smell” blood sugar levels.
Essentially, that sensor would be an environmental air sensor that could sniff out certain chemicals in the air. While that system could detect spoiled food or body odor, as well as potential environmental hazards, it could also theoretically “smell” a user’s sweat and determine if their blood sugar is low.
The way you wear your Apple Watch is actually incredibly important. Without a snug fit, features like heart rate sensing or activity tracking won’t work as intended. And while it’s pretty easy to just adjust your watch strap yourself, Apple’s working on a technology that could allow the strap to do that for you.
There are a couple of possible applications. For one, the so-called smart band could inform users whether they’re at the proper tightness level. From there, users could adjust the fit manually using an electronic system. But the more interesting use case is a strap that could automatically adjust itself if it detects that it’s been loosened.
An Apple Watch is already designed to be fairly modular with interchangeable watch bands. But according to one patent, Apple may make future Apple Watches more modular in other meaningful ways — including battery life.
That idea comes from a recent patent describing different “modules” that would attach to a wearable's casing and that users could easily swap. Some of the functionality that you could add could include different communication interfaces, controllers, sensor packages, additional batteries, or even I/O modules that could add something like a Lightning or USB-C connector.
If there’s a downside to the Apple Watch’s slim profile and wearable design, it’s the fact that you still need to charge it. While battery life has improved steadily over the years, an Apple Watch will still only last a day or so of full usage. But Apple may have an idea to fix that.
Basically, a portable Apple Watch battery that could be embedded in a watch band. To give your Apple Watch a bit of extra juice, you can attach one part of the strap to its rear, giving it some additional power via indicative charging. It may not give you days worth of battery life, but it could be a great source of additional power on the go.
Current Apple Watches already feature sensor suites that can alert users to dangerous conditions, such as ambient environments that are too loud. But, in the future, Apple could take that one step further with sensors that may be able to detect carbon monoxide or dangerous chemicals in the air.
Apple has been working on similar technology for health purposes, but the goal of this particular patent would be for safety. Beyond carbon monoxide detective, the speaker-embedded sensors could even alert users to high ozone levels or particles in the ambient environment or air around them.
Gesture-Sensing Digital Crowns
One of the more recent Apple Watch patents surfaced late in January 2020. And it could help do away with one of the most annoying things about the Apple Watch: accidental Siri activation from the Digital Crown. But while the patent focuses on improving the Digital Crown, its possible uses go far beyond reducing annoyance.
The patent essentially details a flat Digital Crown with Force Touch feedback. But beyond ditching an analog component, that updated Digital Crown could even incorporate different gesture and sensor-based controls. In theory, that could mean that you’ll be able to control certain watchOS functions with wrist movements or specific taps on the Crown.
You can already make calls or send texts from your Apple Watch, so why not a FaceTime stream? Currently, of course, you can’t because of the lack of a camera. But Apple is working on ways to add a camera to your wearable without significantly increasing size or weight.
Most recently, Apple’s development in the area has focused on embedding a camera module into a future Apple Watch band. Combined with some of the other band-related patents on this list, that could hint that future Apple Watch straps may be much more advanced and intelligent than current offerings. Such a band could even bring Face ID to the Apple Watch for improved authentication and security.
Think about most of the displays in your life. Whether it’s your Mac, your iPhone or your Apple Watch, they’re very likely all square in shape. That’s actually because circular displays have a number of significant problems and “bottlenecks.” And it’s the primary reason why Apple hasn’t dabbled with a circular Apple Watch.
But Apple may be looking for a solution to those problems. Back in 2018, Apple patented a technology that could mitigate the pixel inefficiencies with circular displays. Essentially, that means a future Apple Watch with a circular design would be much more advanced and functional than current circular smartwatches.