Apple was recently granted a patent for “sensing capacitance changes of a housing of an electronic device.” As Apple loves to make gadgets out of metal, this new squeeze-metal technology could easily be applicable to the entirety of their product line. However, the ability to use a device’s housing as a user interface would be particularly beneficial to a device too small to receive user input through traditional methods … such as an iWatch. Does this revelation mean that Apple is entering the smartwatch market? Read on to find out …
On March 5, 2013, Apple was granted USPTO patent number 8,390,481 that covers apparatuses that can measure a user’s interaction with the device’s housing. An interesting and novel addition to the claim is that the housing is capable of being temporarily deformed by the the user’s touch, the pressure of which will be measured, quantified, and turned into commands. This touch technology is a break from the norm where a user’s interaction is typically measured by the electrical characteristics of his finger.
Apple’s new squeeze-metal technology could enhance the user interfaces for most of its product line from Thunderbolt displays to iPods and iPhones. However, such technology would also be extremely useful on a product too diminutive to employ traditional methods for measuring user interaction. As rumors swirl of Apple’s development of the iWatch, squeeze-metal technology seems particularly well-suited for what will presumably be the smallest hardware offering in Apple’s line.
Current smartwatch manufactures employ traditional pushbuttons to give users limited control over their smart watches and, thereby, over their smartphones. However, such technology is dated and uninspired and does not provide the amount of control desired by a population besieged by smart devices. In addition, the face of a smartwatch is just too small for effective implementation of a touchscreen, especially for men with large fingers. Acordingly, Apple’s squeeze-metal tech may be just the answer the smartwatch industry is looking for to enhance the user experience. By integrating the user interface into a bendable housing, the device will not only measure the “0″ or “1″, on or off of user interaction as with a pushbutton, but will provide data as to the degree and direction of pressure as well. This allow Apple to offer the user much greater control over the iWatch and corresponding Bluetooth connected iPhone. And, such technology is not limited only to the bezel on a smartwatch but could also be easily incorporated into it’s band, especially in the case of a flexible slap bracelet.
It seems that almost daily a new iWatch rumor hits the presses. Lately, there has been much to support these predictions in the form of patent filings, component vendor interview slip-ups, and tales of developers hard at work on the wrist-borne wearable computer. Such fodder typically fans the flames of Apple rumor mongers and fanboys eager to peak behind the curtain obscuring the “one more thing” from view. Nonetheless, one thing is for sure: there is a lot of interesting new tech about to hit the market … and it may just end up on your wrist in the form of an iWatch.