Patent points to an Apple Watch designed for the 'extreme sporting market'

Apple Watch Series 7 Hero Underwater Apple
Apple Watch Series 7 Hero Underwater Apple (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • A new Apple patent application suggests a future Apple Watch could be more water resistant than the current models.
  • A new water sensor could come to iPhones and Apple Watches.
  • New water resistance ratings would allow Apple Watches to be used for extreme sports.

While the most water the majority of Apple Watches ever have to deal with is when someone washes their hands, a future version could be capable of getting much wetter — making it suitable for the extreme sports market. A new Apple patent application suggests that the company is hard at work at finding a way to make Apple Watches more water-resistant. And the same technology could come to the iPhone lineup, too.

Despite Apple promoting its Apple Watch Series 7 as a wearable that can be used while swimming, anyone who wants to really get into the world of extreme sports is going to want something a little more capable. As Patently Apple reports, such watches aren't normally spoken about as being water-resistant to a specific number of meters. Rather, they're rated for atmospheric pressure. And to get to the higher end of the scale — the 10-bar and 20-bar ratings extreme sportspeople require — Apple is already working on a solution.

A new patent application appears to show a change in how a device's water detector would work, potentially making it more suited to the kinds of sports Apple Watch wearers are likely to take part in.

Patently Apple writes:

Today, wearable devices use gel-filled sensors to survive increasingly more stringent reliability requirements such as dust, sand or other debris exposure. These devices, however, are vulnerable to pressure errors due to a number of factors including orientation sensitivity and capillary pressure errors due to water in the gel surface. The use of ePTFE membrane or mesh instead of gel can provide environmental robustness, but the membrane and/or mesh is prone to water occlusion.It should be emphasized that the water detector of the subject technology is a stand-alone design that can be integrated in many different ways into a host system or device. In some aspects, replacing the ePTFE material with the system barometric vent material could negate the need for water detection to be part of the lightning-cable interface. In addition, this could be further extended to any sensor that needs to interact with the outside environment.

This isn't the first time we've heard about Apple and a new sports-oriented Apple Watch, of course. Talk of a more rugged Apple Watch has come and gone over the last few months with both Bloomberg and analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggesting we may see one this year. However, this new patent doesn't confirm whether a product is in the works let alone whether it's imminent.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.