A patent granted to Apple today describes how the company could use a modular Watch bracelet to add functionality. Each link could perform a separate function, with owners able to add as many active links as needed.

In one or more embodiments, a method for utilizing functional components of band system for a wearable device may include: receiving identifiers at a wearable device from multiple modular functional band links connected to the wearable device, determining functionality available via the multiple modular functional band links utilizing the received identifiers, and communicating with one of the multiple modular functional band links to utilize the determined functionality.

While the patent uses the usual broad terminology – suggesting that the modules might offer everything from cameras to additional power – Tim Cook has already hinted at the most likely application of the technology …

Back in 2015, Cook said that while the company had a keen interest in health-focused products, it had decided against adding more sensors to the Watch itself to avoid subjecting it to FDA approval.

We don’t want to put the watch through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) process. I wouldn’t mind putting something adjacent to the watch through it, but not the watch, because it would hold us back from innovating too much, the cycles are too long. But you can begin to envision other things that might be adjacent to it — maybe an app, maybe something else.

Additional sensors that have been suggested include O2 saturation and blood sugar monitoring. It’s notable that Apple decided not to offer O2 saturation measurement in the Watch itself despite the fact that the hardware used for the heart-rate sensor appears to already have this capability.

With battery life improved in the Series 2 but still a concern for some, the ability to feed power to the Watch from the bracelet might also prove appealing. A third-party company announced a battery strap that would provide an additional 30 hours of power, but – just as we warned – Apple subsequently blocked access to the accessory report.

Other applications, like cameras and speakers, seem less likely.

As always with Apple patents, there is no telling whether the technology will ever make it onto the market, but given the company’s stated interest in expanding the health role of the Watch, it seems one of the more feasible possibilities.

Via Apple Insider

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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