A patent application published today could herald slimmer Apple Watch models as the company describes a method of moving the haptic motor from the watch to the band. Taps to the wrist could then be delivered by the band rather than the Watch.
Apple specifically cites space-saving as the benefit of the invention …
Many portable electronic devices continue to decrease in size while the number of uses and functions of the electronic devices can remain the same or increase. For example, some cellular phones and digital music players are contained within small and compact housings that include electronic circuits and components that provide a user with a wide range of applications and functions. Space can therefore be an issue when including or adding additional components, circuits, and functions to a portable electronic device.
Although Apple does the usual patent thing of keeping the language as general as possible, referring to ‘portable electronic devices’ rather than smartwatches specifically, frequent reference to ‘band’ as well as the patent drawings make it abundantly clear that the company has the Apple Watch in mind.
A system includes a band, an attachment mechanism attached to the band, and one or more haptic devices included in the attachment mechanism. The attachment mechanism can attach the band to an electronic device. Additionally or alternatively, the attachment mechanism can attach the band to a wearer. The haptic device or devices are in communication with a processing device. At least one of the one or more haptic devices produces a haptic response based on an activation signal received from the processing device.
Signals from the Watch to the band would be transmitted via a connector within the slot attaching the band.
Although the Apple Watch is not especially thick by the standards of other smartwatches and, indeed, many conventional watches, the design does make it look quite chunky on the wrist. Anything Apple can do to slim it down is likely to boost appeal among more fashion-focused customers. The one downside, of course, is that it would limit third-party band options, and make bands more expensive.