Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!

Modular Band Links Could Expand Functionality of Future Apple Watches

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
50,405
11,778



Apple continues to explore how wristbands might augment the feature list of future smartwatch models, as shown in a new patent granted today.

First picked up by AppleInsider, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published details on Apple's designs for "Modular functional band links for wearable devices", which first surfaced last April.

The patent describes a band made of a series of modular links containing electronic components, which are attached to each other using a flexible conductive material.


A number of possible uses are mentioned for the linked design, including batteries, speakers, kinetic power generators, haptic feedback devices, and more. Biometric sensors are also covered, such as blood pressure monitors and sweat sensors.

The modular accessory links are arranged serially across a power circuit and communications bus, with module control achieved by way of a unique identifier assigned to each link. In one example, an audio signal is sent from the timepiece through the chain of linked modules and activates only those modules assigned with a particular identifier.

Other examples describe links being used as external ports for interfacing with off-device components such as expandable memory modules. In most of the embodiments, the modular links connect to a 6-pin diagnostic port on the watch.

As always, there's no suggestion that the invention should be expected to appear in a finished product, but the patent does highlight Apple's continuing search for ways to expand the capabilities of a future Apple Watch or other wearable beyond the chassis, which could ultimately extend the life cycle of the watch body and allow future updates to come in the form of new band accessories.

Article Link: Modular Band Links Could Expand Functionality of Future Apple Watches
 

Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
34,605
35,969
Interestingly enough, the diagram depicts a round version. If the link band suggests these types of features, it definitely is leading towards more health Sensors. But at what cost and can the band be separated from the Watch itself, which would obviously have to communicate with the Watch.
 
Comment

lincolntran

macrumors 6502a
Jan 18, 2010
843
471
Interestingly enough, the diagram depicts a round version. If the link band suggests these types of features, it definitely is leading towards more health Sensors. But at what cost and can the band be separated from the Watch itself, which would obviously have to communicate with the Watch.

That's why they're building that wireless smart connection such as between the AirPod and iPad Pro Smart Keyboard. Many people have overlooked this auto-connect feature as they argue the same thing can be done via traditional Bluetooth, but that is a manual connection. I imagine a future where apple products where the watch, watch band's links, etc. automatically connect and talk with each other in a sort of a "micro network". This can enable all kinds of cool things.
 
Comment

Arkanok

macrumors 6502a
Feb 13, 2007
541
110
They're already charging $600 CDN for their stainless steel link bracelet, I can't even begin to imagine how much this would cost us.
 
  • Like
Reactions: imola.zhp
Comment

djcerla

macrumors 68000
Apr 23, 2015
1,855
7,819
Italy
I highly doubt this will happen. It's messy and breakable...though so is Apple under cook

Apple is about to report their best quarter in history.

Look elsewhere for a "messy and breakable" company, i.e. Samsung, or Volkswagen. Or Google, that keeps failing at a massive rate with only one product keeping the boat afloat.
 
Comment

rp2011

macrumors 68000
Oct 12, 2010
1,741
1,692
It's always been part of the Watch idea from the beginning but it's nice to see expanded capabilities coming soon.
 
Comment

Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
34,605
35,969
That's why they're building that wireless smart connection such as between the AirPod and iPad Pro Smart Keyboard. Many people have overlooked this auto-connect feature as they argue the same thing can be done via traditional Bluetooth, but that is a manual connection. I imagine a future where apple products where the watch, watch band's links, etc. automatically connect and talk with each other in a sort of a "micro network". This can enable all kinds of cool things.

Excellent point. It would likely be Bluetooth related versus some direct connection. Very similar to the smart connector keyboard communicating with the iPad.
 
Comment

Vash108

macrumors member
Nov 12, 2015
60
51
I thought that said EGG module for a moment. I had to stop and think.
 
Comment

Soccertess

macrumors 65816
Oct 19, 2005
1,248
1,738
Apple should have done this from the beginning. There were rumors on this, that this was one direction some in Apple wanted to go, but the Marketing guys killed it supposedly to sell watch bands..... I bet that's true as Apple is becoming less and less a tech company with the likes of Angela running the show..

I hope this rumor is true and they go down this path. I would be more willing to shell out 1000 on a watch, if they know that it isn't useless in 1 year and could be upgraded. Then again, Apple products are rarely upgradeable these days..
 
Comment

paul4339

macrumors 65816
Sep 14, 2009
1,406
666
They're already charging $600 CDN for their stainless steel link bracelet, I can't even begin to imagine how much this would cost us.

What would be nice is if Apple created a framework/standards to opened up the watchband "links" for others (industrial/medical equipment companies) to use.

Few consumers are willing to pay say $2K for a band loaded with sensors, but many research labs, hospitals, etc will easily pay that much if it suited their specific needs... plus I'm sure there a lots of medical companies etc. that are willing to produce these sensors - mainly because their are already making (FDA approved) sensor based equipment.

I guess what I'm saying is, there is possibility for a Watch hardware 'eco-system' where Apple doesn't create the hardware (and doesn't desire to), but Apple can still boast how their watch is helping people.
 
Last edited:
Comment

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
67,150
34,274
Boston
Interesting idea, and while others have used the band of the watch to hold batteries and/or electronics I can Apple potentially taking this to the next level.
 
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.