New Apple Watch will feature an intelligent (Embedded NFC) band identifier system

Apple’s WWDC 2023 is a couple of weeks away. A new patent that was filed in August last year was approved today that provides detailed engineering specs of an exciting Apple Watch feature.

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About the latest patent for the Apple Watch band

The new patent, ‘Band identifier system for wearable devices’, provides specifications around a wearable band feature that will include near field communications (NFC) components that allow the Apple watch to uniquely identify the band.

The basic idea around this invention is that your Apple Watch will automatically adjust the color, theme, and content displayed on the device based on the identification of the watch’s band.

A miniature NFC tag attached to the band is configured to be received in a recess in the housing of the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch Intelligent Band with NFC

The Apple Watch home screen and other user interfaces, expected to be redesigned in watchOS 10 will most likely feature this new design.

The home screen will be displayed with a theme or a color palette selected by the user or generated automatically by the device based on the NFC tag read. 

This feature with the embedded NFC tag on the band will probably be available on the premium Apple Watch model that is expected to be released this year.

When you examine the plethora of choices around the Apple Watch band ( size, material, color, use case, etc), it makes sense that Apple will probably restrict the feature to the premium model for the first iteration.Apple Watch band identification system

This is in line with Mark Gurman’s earlier report that Apple plans on doing a ‘fairly extensive upgrade’  to watchOS operating system.

According to Mark’s comments, Widgets are likely the main focus of watchOS 10, with Apple bringing back an interface that is similar to the “Glances” view that was used for prior versions of watchOS. 

Widgets serve quicker, interactive ways to access key information on the Apple Watch without having to resort to using an app.

This is where the band integration with the NFC tag makes sense. The entire home screen and color palettes for the new widgets are driven by the band’s color.

For the last few years, we have seen a pattern emerge from Apple’s patents when it comes to the band design of the Apple Watch.

One central design that emerges is that Apple is looking actively into the available real estate on the band. You can expect the Apple Watch band to evolve into a customized band where users may be able to attach processing modules that help with specific needs. 

The inventors around this specific intelligent band design are all Apple employees based out of California.Apple Watch band with NFC tag

The WWDC 2023 is just a short couple of weeks away. We feel quite confident that this new NFC micro tag attachment feature on the Apple Watch band will be showcased at the upcoming WWDC.

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Sudz Niel Kar
I am a technologist with years of experience with Apple and wearOS products, have a BS in Computer Science and an MBA specializing in emerging tech, and owned the popular site AppleToolBox. In my day job, I advise Fortune 500 companies with their digital transformation strategies and also consult with numerous digital health startups in an advisory capacity. I'm VERY interested in exploring the digital health and fitness-tech evolution and keeping a close eye on patents, FDA approvals, strategic partnerships, and developments happening in the wearables and digital health sector. When I'm not writing or presenting, I run with my Apple Watch Ultra or Samsung Galaxy Watch and closely monitor my HRV and other recovery metrics.


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