Apple looks into multi-purpose Apple Watch bands, an optical projection system

Future Apple Watch bands may do more than do good while keeping the smartwatch on your arm. Apple has filed for a patent (number 9,553,625) for a “modular functional band links for wearable devices.” The modular links could include multiple batteries, a small display, thermometer, a compass, a touch sensor, speakers, and more.

In other words, Apple is considering “link” bands that could extend the battery life of your Apple Watch, serve photovoltaic cells, electricity generators, cameras, haptic output devices, improve sound output, measure your blood pressure, take your temperature, and a lot more..

According to the patent filing, a wearable device is coupled to a band including multiple modular functional band links that are each electrically and mechanically connected to one or more other of the band links and/or the wearable device and include one or more electronic components. The wearable device may receive identifiers from each of the band links, determine functionality available using the identifiers, and communicate with the band links to utilize the determine functionality. 

Apple has also been granted a patent (number 9,554,122) for “optical pattern projection.” Optical pattern projection is used in a variety of applications, such as optical three-dimensional (3D) mapping, area illumination, and LCD backlighting. In some applications, diffractive optical elements (DOEs) are used in creating a desired projection pattern. 

3D mapping is technology used to turn objects, often irregularly shaped, into a display surface for video projection. The software can interact with a projector to fit any desired image onto the surface of that object. 3D mapping/optical pattern projection could be used to allow a Mac, iPhone or iPad could project its screen onto a wall or other surface to offer a bigger display. The invention could also be for a standalone display, but that seems unlikely. 

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.