Apple has been granted three separate patents related to the Apple Watch, which would allow for biometric identification, automatic tightening of the band and lighted indicators, according to a report.
The biometric sensor would use infrared to take a “picture” of a person’s wrist and then use the identifying traits as an unlocking device. Currently, there is no way to unlock an Apple Watch without using a PIN or setting it to unlock when a person unlocks their phone.
The second patent would tighten the watch band if it felt like it was slipping or getting loose, or loosen it if was too tight.
The third patent would put light-up indicators in the band, which could notify the wearer of incoming text messages or upcoming calendar items without having to unlock the screen display.
Apple’s patent-to-actual-product ratio is uneven – just because something is patented doesn’t mean it will be made into a product. Apple bands are simple and swappable, and the addition of sensors could not only raise their price, but could compromise the variety Apple customers currently enjoy.
The global market for wearables grew 31.4 percent during Q4, reaching 59.3 million units shipped, while shipments for the year grew 27.5 percent to reach a total of 172.2 million. Apple also took the top spot in Q4, with 16.2 million wearables shipped, 10.4 million of them being Apple Watches. In addition, smartwatches grew 54.3 percent last year, accounting for 29.8 percent of all wearables. Apple Watches comprised nearly half of that market.
“The Series 4 has been off to a very strong start, and IDC anticipates this to continue as more healthcare organizations and consumers adopt the latest device. The remainder of Apple’s shipments were comprised of AirPods and Beats headphones in the ear-worn category,” according to the IDC.