Apple Watch patent reveals a watch band that could maintain consistently-tight fit

Apple Watch App Store
Apple Watch App Store (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

What you need to know

  • An Apple Watch patent published today has revealed the possibility of a "consistently-tight watch band".
  • The patent would allow a strap to maintain constant tension through changes in length whilst being worn.
  • It would improve consistency and functionality of Apple Watch sensors.

An Apple patent published today has revealed how an Apple Watch band could be engineered to maintain constant tension around your wrist.

The patent is titled "Consistently tight watch band" and the abstract states:

A watch band is disclosed. The watch band maintains a substantially constant tension throughout changes in its length while worn by a user. Such changes in length may occur automatically to accommodate changes in the size and circumference of a user's wrist as they move their wrist normally. By maintaining a constant tension, the watch band also maintains a constant force on the user's wrist, and causes a watch body attached to the watch band to also maintain a constant force on the user's wrist. This can increase a user's comfort, since the watch will not get tighter or constrict their wrist as they straighten and bend their wrist. It can also help optimize operation of any sensors in the watch band or watch body that benefit from being held against the user's wrist with a constant force, such as some physiological sensors.

The patent is basically designed to alleviate the discomfort you sometimes feel when you move your wrist and your watch tightens. The technology allows for a band that could maintain a constant tension despite changing length. Not only would this increase comfort, it would also optimize the performance and function of the Apple Watch's sensors, which require to be in close proximity to your skin in order to work properly.

Apple Watch

(Image credit: Apple Inc. | USPTO)

The band itself is based around mechanisms that can be moved between extended and non-extended positions, adjusting the size and tension of the band as you move your wrist. As AppleInsider notes:

According to the filing, the band could contain opposing spring segments at a pivot point, as part of a number of compliant mechanisms throughout the band itself. The segments are able to extend and contract between two positions, with the springs keeping the band at a desired level of tightness throughout its motions. In short, the mechanisms increase the length of the band when the wrist circumference increases during movement. When the wrist circumference shrinks down, the mechanisms revert back to their previous form.

Not only can the mechanisms be opened up simultaneously, they can also be manufactured to open sequentially, so that some parts of the strap would "stretch" before others, taking the pressure off more vulnerable parts of the band. Not only would this enable the watch to maintain tension, but Apple claims it could do so without the width of the band changing so as to stop the band thinning out as though it were being stretched.

Apple has previously tried to get Apple Watch users to wear their bands in a particular way to ensure that sensors give accurate readings, however perhaps a more long term solution would be to provide a band that can maintain a constant level of tension so that you know your sensor results are always consistent. Of course, a patent filing is no guarantee we'll ever see this product in the real world, but it's certainly an interesting idea!

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9