New Apple Patent Hints at Possible Future Apple Watch Upgrades

It's like Touch ID, but for your wrist.

Apple might be moving away from the touch sensor in favor of Face ID as far as its newest iPhones go, but fingerprint-reader inspired security features may not be going away entirely. A new patent suggests that the tech may soon find a new home in another Apple device: Strapped to the wristbands of future Apple Watches.

A patent filing published Thursday by the United States Patent and Trademark Office revealed that Apple is thinking about embedding another biometric sensor into its smartwatch belts. Instead of accurately measuring users’ pulse, like its new electrocardiogram (ECG) feature, this proposed component would recognize skin texture in the same manner that Touch ID authenticates fingerprints. This way only the owner could slip on the watch and use it without taking an extra step to prove their identity.

The patent blueprints depict the sensor positioned underneath the watch’s buckle so that it would press against the underside of users’ wrists. This documentation was first reported by Patently Apple.

The presented hardware is described to be made of an array of biometric sensing pixels and an onboard processor. This could also include an infrared sensor that would authenticate the thermal readings from the skin and hair on users’ arms. This patent application doesn’t guarantee Apple will ever ship the upgrade, but the Apple Watch could greatly benefit from this idea.

apple watch patent

The wearable notably lacks a Face ID or Touch ID safeguard. Currently, users can only set up a passcode for the device to make use of its Apple Pay functionality. If you were ever to forget your passcode, the only way to access the watch would be to reset it to factory settings.

A secondary security authenticator would make using Apple Way way easier and give you a fallback if you forget your passcode. Touch ID might be on its way out, but Wrist ID could succeed it.