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Future Apple Watch models may feature Face ID

Published Nov 19th, 2019 6:35PM EST
Apple Watch Series
Image: JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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Apple this week was granted a patent for various Apple Watch technologies which might help clue us in on upcoming features Apple may add to its increasingly popular wearable. First and foremost, the patent in question details how a camera could be added to the Apple Watch. This, in turn, has sparked some speculation that it’s only a matter of time before Face ID comes to the Apple Watch. While Face ID on the Apple Watch would certainly not be used for device access as it would prove to be wholly inefficient, it could very well be used as a means of authentication when accessing sensitive data, for example.

Apple’s patent also notes that a camera, in addition to providing a means to take quick photos, could also “allow a user to capture images of nearby objects in the environment, such as a bar code or QR code.”

The patent also details how an Apple Watch band could be outfitted with various sensors to further extend the device’s functionality. The patent specifically references EMG sensors which would be able to measure muscle activity. What’s more, strain sensors could potentially be used to provide user feedback and analysis when playing certain sports.

The patent reads in part:

The user can grip an instrument. In some examples, the instrument can be a sports instrument (e.g., golf club, baseball bat, etc.)(step 554 of process 550). The strain gauges can be used to determine how tightly the user is gripping the sports instrument (step 556 of process 550). The user may then proceed to follow through with a specific sports motion (e.g., swinging the golf club or throwing a football) (step 558 of process 550). The motion sensors (e.g., accelerometer 342 or barometric sensors 364 of FIG. 3) can measure the user’s performance in terms of, for example, acceleration, trajectory of the sports instrument, etc. (step 560 of process 550). The device’s controller can analyze the user’s grip and performance by comparing the measured and determined information to ideal characteristics (e.g., stored in memory), for example (step 562 of process 550). From the comparison, the device can provide a simulation of the user’s performance and/or feedback to the user on how to improve.

While Apple has a habit of patenting every new technology its engineers come up with — even technologies that have no chance of making it into a shipping product — Apple patents can sometimes provide us with an idea of what new features may be coming down the pipeline.

As for Apple Watch features that are likely to be coming sooner rather than later, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo last week issued an investor note claiming that the Apple Watch 6 will offer up improved water resistance, improved cellular and Wi-Fi speeds, and last but not least, much-improved performance. The recent Apple Watch 5 release wasn’t jam-packed with new features or technologies, so it stands to reason we’ll have a lot to look forward to once Apple announces the Apple Watch 6 later next year.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.