Patent filing is for a ‘dynamically adjustable’ Apple Watch band

A second Apple patent filing is for Apple has filed for as second patent (number 20190082800) for a “dynamic fit adjustment for wearable electronic devices.” If the invention ever sees the light of day, we could have Apple Watches that allow users to “dynamically adjust” the wearable device’s watchband without having to remove it. The first patent filing was 20160255944 in 2016.

Watch bands may have limited fit adjustment increments available. For example, some bands have an incrementally user-adjustable size (e.g., a buckling clasp, pin and eyelet, etc.) whereas other bands have a substantially fixed size, adjustable only with specialized tools and/or expertise (e.g., folding clasp, deployment clasp, snap-fit clasp, etc.). Still other bands may be elasticated expansion-type bands that stretch to fit around a user's wrist. 

However, Apple says that, in many cases, conventional watch bands may catch, pinch, or pull a user's hair or skin during use if the band is overly tight. In other cases, watch bands may slide along a user's wrist, turn about a user's wrist, or may be otherwise uncomfortable or bothersome to a user if the band is overly loose. These problems can be exacerbated during periods of heightened activity, such as while running or playing sports. 

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What’s more, adjusting the size or fit of conventional watch bands often requires multiple steps, specialized tools, and/or technical expertise. In other cases, sizing options available to a user may be insufficient to obtain a proper fit. In still further examples, the fit may be different and/or may be perceived to be different given certain environmental (e.g. temperature, humidity) or biological conditions (e.g., sweat, inflammation). 

As a result, Apple says users of conventional wristwatches and/or fitness/health tracking devices may select a tolerable (although not optimally comfortable) fit, reserving tight bands for fitness/health tracking devices and loose bands for conventional wristwatches. 

What’s more, ome wearable electronic devices (such as smart watches) may be multi-purpose devices, providing in one example both fitness/health tracking and timekeeping functionality. Accordingly, a user may prefer the fit of a smart watch to vary with use. For example, a user may prefer a looser fit in a timekeeping mode and a tighter fit in a fitness/health tracking mode. That’s why Apple says there’s a need for systems and methods for dynamic adjustment of the fit of wearable electronic devices. 

Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “Systems and methods for dynamically adjusting the fit of a wearable electronic device are disclosed. In many embodiments, a tensioner associated with a wearable electronic device can control one or more actuators that are mechanically coupled to either the housing or to a band attached to the wearable electronic device. In one example, in response to a signal to increase the tightness of the band, the tensioner can cause the actuator(s) to increase the tension within the band.”

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.