First the Apple Watch: Now the Apple Smart Strap?

Apple already has a smartwatch. But now it's filed a patent for a type of smart band that could function as a tether to a smartphone or simply as a band for the Apple Watch itself.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Apple's woven fabric smart band.

Image: Apple

Apple has filed a patent for a 'timekeeping' wristband made of woven fabric that can act as a display.

The US Patent and Trademark Office has published Apple's 'woven display' patent, describing a wristband that can be magnetically attached or tethered to mobile devices or a watch.

As Apple explains, it could use nylon to weave light pipe fibers into a flexible display that presents information about the device it's attached to, such as a waiting message. It could also change colours to indicate whether the band is properly closed around a wrist or secured to a second device.

Apple adds that tethers, such as on smartphone protective cases, can prevent a device being dropped or lost, but beyond that serve no purpose other than aesthetics.

"Thus, while providing attachment of the device to the person or providing means to transport the device, the tether may provide useful information relating to the electronic device, the functions provided by the electronic device and the attachment tether itself," Apple notes.

As a wristband, Apple describes a connector that appears similar to the six-pin port in the Apple Watch case. The connector also acts as a control device, possibly implemented in a chip, which can provide light to the fabric and may include enough memory to store an operating system and data.

Besides displaying the time, the wristband could display temperature, or whether it's securely fastened and likely to fall off the user.

However, Apple also considers that the concept of a woven fine display need not be limited to a wearable band.

"In alternative embodiments, the material may find use with electronic devices in other applications such as with medical equipment or the material may be incorporated into the housing as part of the electronic device," it adds.

Apple also outlines numerous ways the woven fabric could function as a display. One method that could give it greater control over the display relies on a connected device causing an LED to "to emit light in varying wavelengths at varying times, thereby causing the light to exit the light-transmitting fiber at different regions or areas, depending on the diffraction patterns of such regions or areas".

"By rapidly changing the wavelength of the light traveling through the fiber, multiple regions of the fiber may appear to emit light at the same time insofar as the shifts between different light-emitting regions may occur too quickly for the human eye to notice the shift or register any dimming or brightening of such regions."

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