Apple Watch new patent revealed: haptic device for mobile battery components
Apple is working on ways to make the battery in Apple Watch move so it can provide haptic feedback to the wearer.
Apple is continuing its efforts to make the Apple Watch thinner, this time to eliminate the need for a separate Taptic engine. Rather than having the engine take up space, Apple wants to see if it can make the battery do double duty as a source of haptic feedback.
The newly granted patent for "Portable Electronic Devices with Haptic Devices with Mobile Battery Elements" is the latest in a long line of attempts to reposition the haptic engine. Previously, Apple had considered using a haptic wristband and considered modifying the charging coil to do the same thing.
In each case, the object is the same. Apple is always looking for ways to get the components it can't live without and make it do more.
"Traditionally, electronic devices include one or more buttons or electromechanical switches for providing input," the patent application says. "Some devices include touch sensors or touch screens for receiving input. However, touch sensors typically lack mechanical feedback to alert the user that an input has been registered."
"[The description in this patent application] is directed to a haptic device that moves a battery element to produce a haptically perceptible pulse or vibration along the outer surface of the device," it continues.
This means having a battery "electrically coupled to the display" and a "coil assembly" "configured to induce oscillatory motion of the battery element parallel to the display to produce a haptic output ".
In addition to potentially eliminating the need for a separate haptic engine to save space on the Apple Watch, Apple may also be using that space for other reasons. Specifically, Apple notes that the current Watch's "battery pack may be smaller than it would be if the haptic device were not included, thereby reducing the potential battery life."
Most of the patent applications deal with what must be done physically to the battery and how much it must be moved to be effective.
"The smaller the mass of the haptic device, the farther the haptic device may need to move the mass to produce the same haptic output," it said. "For example, to produce a haptic output of the same magnitude, the first mass, which is as large as the second, can be moved twice as far."
So currently the haptic engine takes up space on its own and then takes up more space due to the need to move. "Thus, even if the mass is smaller to accommodate a larger battery element, the additional space required to move the mass of the haptic device may still limit the space available for the size of the battery element."
"A larger battery element may require a smaller haptic device, which may not have a large enough mass and/or move the mass far enough to produce a haptic output of the desired magnitude," Apple said.
The patent attempts to propose a solution to this balance between component size and functionality, and credits six inventors, including Erik G. de Jong. His previous related work includes a patent covering a method of providing a hidden battery using the Apple Watch band.