Apple has filed a patent application hinting that the company could be working on modular smart bands for the Apple Watch, allowing users to add functions such as wireless charging battery packs and GPS receivers to an existing timepiece (via AppleInsider).
The application, titled "Modular functional band links for wearable devices", was published yesterday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and details strap designs with embedded electronic devices that connect via the Apple Watch's diagnostics port.
Rather than building complex components into the Apple Watch chassis, the designs propose breaking functional units out into a range of separate watch band 'links' that can work serially or in parallel.
A number of Apple Watch accessories with added functionality are described in the patent, including batteries, displays, processors, electricity generators, GPS sensors, cameras, thermometers, blood pressure sensors, sweat sensors and speakers.
Arranged as links, the modules would connect to each other and to the 6-pin diagnostics port on the Apple Watch. In some cases, links also act as an external port for accepting electronic components, such as a SIM card or powered memory module.
Even before the launch of the Apple Watch, the inclusion of a diagnostics port on the device fueled speculation that Apple is planning to bring smart band accessories to market at some point in the future. However, if the patent is indicative of upcoming Apple Watch products, such a significant extension of functionality would more likely be held back for inclusion in a second-generation device. Apple Watch 2 is expected to launch later in the year.
Apple refreshed its Apple Watch lineup on March 21, 2016, introducing new spring colors in yellows, blues, and pinks, along with new Nylon Apple Watch bands.