Saturday, Jan 01, 2022, 17:58 Hardware

Will Apple Replace The Apple Watch's Crown With An Optical Sensor?

At the moment, the Apple Watch's digital crown suits four purposes: scrolling, returning to the home screen, activating Siri, and providing the information for electrocardiograms. The latter feature arrived with the Apple Watch series four in January 2018. The digital crown is also responsible for supplying Apple Watch models with cellular features with access to cellular data. The crown's appearance also changes accordingly: If the crown has a red edge – or in the case of the Apple Watch series three, a red dot, then the smart watch is equipped with an eSIM and can communicate over the cellular network.

New Apple Watch Patent
The United States' Patent Office recently accepted a patent request from Apple numbered 11,209,783, in which the company offered up an alternative to its current digital crown. According to the patent, the crown would be replaced by an optical sensor, allowing the device to be controlled via various gestures.

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The new "controller" would be able to do more than simply recognize when users swipe up or down over the sensor, it would also be able to detect when the finger is held a little bit away from the sensor (meaning, no direct contact). According to the varying finger distance, the device would be able to recognize different functions via gesture than with direct contact. The patent description states that the new sensor should be able to detect the position, orientation, speed, contact point, and distance of the finger from the sensor.

Fewer Moving Parts – More Interior Hardware Space
As per Apple's patent, the new hardware has multiple advantages: the number of moving parts is, firstly, reduced – and secondly, the entire construction is thus capable of being made to better withstanding the elements. Furthermore, space is also saved inside the device's housing where there would now be extra room for things such as a larger battery for example.



No Guarantee Of Implementation
Although one could rightly presume that the patent means Apple is actively researching such a technology, the patent's existence alone is not enough to prove that Apple means to do away with the digital crown any time soon. Each and every year, Apple patents hundreds of ideas and designs, of which only a small number are implemented into products.

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