Future Apple Watches could have bands that act as wireless antennas to augment or replace ones within the the case. A new patent covers making flexible antennas that can be hidden within bands.
Alongside previous research into bands with sensors, Apple is investigating the use of bands for Apple Watch which contain wireless communication antennae. In a new patent application, Apple says that having the antenna outside of the Watch case could mean leaving more room inside for other components.
"In many traditional watches, neither the watch body nor any other device interacts with the watch band," explains Apple in US patent number 20190341677. " Instead, the watch body operates independently or does not interact with the watch band while communicating with any other external device. The operating components of the watch body can be protected within a rigid housing."
"However, it can be desirable to provide certain components outside the rigid housing to more effectively utilize the space within the housing," it continues. "It can also be desirable to position certain components at locations that are more accessible or that can be more effectively utilized when positioned outside the housing."
"For example, an antenna and appropriate control circuitry can be provided in a watch band, rather than in a watch body, to communicate with other devices," says the patent. "The antenna can be embedded within a body of the watch band to protect the antenna from an external environment [and the] embedded antenna can be concealed to enhance the aesthetic appearance of the watch band."
The patent describes issues around the need to a band to "stretch, bend and flex," plus details how the bands may be connected to the Watch.
Recently, Apple was granted a similar patent covering the embedding of electrical contacts with a band to help with charging.