Extreme sports Apple Watch model – waterproofing patent

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Extreme sports Apple Watch model – waterproofing patent


Bloomberg reported last year that Apple is eyeing a new market for its wearable, with an extreme sports Apple Watch model under consideration. A new waterproofing patent application by Apple lends weight to this idea.

The tech described in the patent would provide the potential for the Apple Watch to progress from IPxx ratings used for everyday life to the far more rigorous ATM ratings used for water sports …

Background

Bloomberg ran a couple of reports last year, the first one in March describing a ruggedized model.

Apple is considering to expand its lineup of Apple Watch models, with a new model that would be focused on athletes and extreme climbers and hikers. As reported by Bloomberg, the casing of this watch would feature a rugged design with impact shock resistance and protective exterior, similar to a Casio G-Shock watch.

The second focused on expected design and tech improvements for the Apple Watch Series 7, but also referenced a separate model expected this year.

The extreme sports model, described by some inside Apple as either an “explorer” or “adventure” edition, was in development for release as early as this year, but it is now more likely to launch in 2022. That new model would help Apple compete with rugged offerings from players like Garmin Ltd. and Casio Computer Co.

It would make sense for an “adventure” model to offer sports-level waterproofing, and that’s what the patent application published today references.

Wearable devices are required to survive increasingly more stringent reliability requirements such as dust, sand or other debris exposure. Gel-filled sensors have been used to survive these requirements but are vulnerable to pressure errors due to orientation sensitivity and capillary pressure errors due to water in the gel surface. Gel elimination by using an expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) membrane or mesh to provide environmental robustness is possible, but the membrane and/or mesh is prone to water occlusion […]

The present description relates generally to sensor technology, and, more particularly, but not exclusively, to a stand-alone water detector with an expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) membrane architecture. 

What the patent describes is a more effective way to detect water ingress, and to take action to protect the Watch. As Patently Apple suggests, this could potentially mean Apple is targeting a sports-focused waterproofing scale measured in atmospheres, or ATM.

Although these ratings sound extreme even for sports use, the reality is that rapid movement (such as diving from a significant height) can result in high pressure ratings even in relatively shallow water.

  • 5 ATM: Pool diving
  • 10 ATM: Surfing, snorkling, rafting, and other surface-based activities
  • 20 ATM: Sports scuba diving

We of course include our standard disclaimer, that Apple patents many more things than it ever brings to market, but the earlier reports do suggest this one may be likelier than most.

Photo: Gerald Schömbs/Unsplash

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