The U.S Patent and Trademark Office has granted a new “Stand-alone water detector” patent to Apple seems related to the new ‘Extreme Sports Apple Watch’ water resistance. The filing describes a new system to detect water in a smartphone and smartwatch.
Since 2021, rumors of the new ‘Extreme Sports Apple Watch’ model have been circulating. It is said that the tech giant might launch three Apple Watch models this year: Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE, and Extreme Sports Apple Watch. The alleged extreme sports edition will have a rugged design like the G-Shock watches and be more durable. The new edition will be suitable for extreme sports athletes and hikers.
Extreme Sports Apple Watch will be equipped with new polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) mesh
As described in the filing, a wearable like an Apple Watch is equipped with Gel-filled pressure sensors to measure environmental pressures, especially when it is worn on a run, walk, and other activities. However, elements like dust, sand, or debris particles can lead to pressure errors. Therefore, a new waterproof mesh or membrane is proposed to replace Gel-filled sensors.
Portable electronic devices such as smartphones and smartwatches include pressure sensors for perceiving environmental pressure. The pressure sensor is sometimes used for barometric pressure measurements, which can be used to identify changes in elevation or depth in water.
The changes in elevation are sometimes used to identify a location or exercise performed by a user of the device. For example, an activity-monitor application running on processing circuitry of the device, worn or carried by the user while the user walks or runs up a flight of stairs or up a hill, may measure elevation changes. Portable electronic devices most commonly use capacitive or piezo-resistive micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) pressure sensors.
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.
Apple Watch Series 3 and newer models offer water resistance up to 50 meters and are swim-proof. They are equipped with a water ejection system via Digital Crown.