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Apple Watch could slim down with this interesting new patent

The Apple Watch could get a little bit slimmer in future iterations if ideas in a new Apple patent ever see the light of day. The patent application in question details a haptic motor that takes up residence in the band of the watch instead of the watch itself.

This could do something to solve the problem of space within the Apple Watch. As we’ve seen with recent versions of the iPhone, Apple likes to make its devices as thin as it can, but because it has to fit all of the Apple Watch hardware within a relatively tiny space, slimming it down becomes more difficult. By applying this patent and moving the motor responsible for haptic feedback to the band, it could open up some addition space within the Watch.

Apple breaks down the idea pretty well in the patent application, but even without a detailed overview, the idea is pretty straightforward. The patent application discusses putting haptic sensors within attachment mechanisms – either the mechanisms that attach the band to the watch, or the clasp that attaches the band (and therefore the device as a whole) to the user, moving the haptic sensor to the underside of the wrist.

Going even further, the patent suggests generating the haptic feedback within the band itself. Essentially, there are a few different ways Apple considers implementing this idea, so the patent application covers a lot of ground. It also suggests either a wireless or wired connection between the sensor and processor:

The electronic device can be in communication with the one or more haptic devices through a wired and/or wireless connection. In some embodiments, a remote electronic device can be in communication with the electronic device attached to the wearable band and the remote electronic device can activate or deactivate a haptic response in one or more attachment mechanisms associated with the wearable band.

In addition to using this patent to make the watch thinner, Apple could also choose to keep the size of the Apple Watch the same and add additional components. As it stands right now, the size of the current Apple Watch is roughly on par with more conventional watches, so it doesn’t necessarily need to get thinner. Apple could instead use that space to increase the size of the battery, giving the Apple Watch extended life.

While this would allow for increased functionality within the band, one downside is that it could also make buying additional bands a more expensive endeavor. That could be offset by perhaps decreasing the cost of other Apple Watch hardware, but there’s no guarantee Apple would go that route. Still, at this point, it’s probably too early to speculate on any price changes this patent would bring forth.

It’s an interesting patent to be sure, and the full text can be found via the source link below. Considering that a new Apple Watch just launched a few months back, we likely won’t see this technology implemented for quite some time, if it’s even implemented at all. Still, there’s always the possibility that we’ll see such a band in the next Apple Watch model, assuming Apple moves forward with the idea.

SOURCE: US Patent and Trademark Office

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Apple Patent Describes Apple Watch Camera With A Solution To The Angle Problem

An Apple Watch camera is one of the things that could make it more practical for the wearable device to eventually replace an iPhone.

But even if Apple included a camera in a future watch, there’s an obvious problem …

How do you give people the freedom to frame the photo as they wish, while still allowing them to see the image on the display of the Watch?

That’s a problem Apple tackles in a patent granted today.

Apple’s proposed solution is to integrate the camera into part of the band, rather than the Watch itself. You’d be able to pull out a section of the band, which would be flexible so you can angle it as desired. The lens itself would rotate on the end of the band for complete flexibility.

A potential barrier to smartwatch adoption is their minimal image-capturing ability. Some embodiments described herein include a smartwatch with the functionality of a camera that is independently positionable relative to a watch body. This can allow the smartwatch to capture images and video at angles and orientations that do not depend directly on the angle and orientation of the rest of the smartwatch, including the watch body. Such functionality can replace or at least meaningfully augment a user’s existing camera or camera-enabled device (e.g., smartphone, tablet). Such a wearable device that captures images and video may do so via an optical lens integrated into a distal end portion of a watch band that retains the device on a user’s wrist.

But what about FaceTime? It would be awkward to have to hold the Apple Watch camera in place. The patent has a solution to that too.

In some embodiments, the extension portion of the camera watch band may maintain its form after being manipulated and released by a user, to maintain a user-set camera orientation relative to the rest of the smartwatch. To help maintain its form, the flexible camera watch band may include a malleable metal core, a core of magnetorhelogical fluid, mechanical links, or any combination of these features. In some embodiments, the optical sensor may be disposed in a rigid housing within the distal end portion of the camera watch band. Alternatively, the optical sensor may removably mount to the watch body to secure the optical sensor in a closer fixed position relative to the watch body.

Just as iPhones have cameras on both sides, so too could a Watch band – and they could include the ability to shoot 360-degree video.

In some embodiments, a second optical sensor is coupled to the opposing side of the camera watch band to which the first optical sensor is coupled. The user may quickly switch between optical sensors or capture images or video from either optical sensor or from both optical sensors at the same time.

There could also be several different ways to actually take the photo.

The optical sensor may capture images or video when the user takes an affirmative action such as pinching the camera watch band, giving a verbal command, pressing a button on the distal end portion of the camera watch band, or pressing a button on the case (e.g., on the screen of the display, which may include a graphical input on a touchscreen of the display).

Apple says the invention would free us from the need to carry an iPhone, at least some of the time.

A smartwatch that has the capability of capturing images and video may provide an opportunity for users to be more reliant on their smartwatch and less reliant on other devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets, digital cameras) to capture images or videos. Thus, a smartwatch with the capability of capturing images or videos may enable a user to forego carrying a smartphone when doing some activities, especially activities or environments where it would be difficult to take a smartphone (e.g., hiking, running, swimming, surfing, snowboarding, and any number of other situations).

In our poll, a third of you said there was a better-than-even chance that an Apple Watch could replace your iPhone within a few years.

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This Is How Big The Rumored Apple Watch Pro Could Really Be

Leaked Apple Watch Pro cases show how big Apple’s rugged smartwatch will be due to its display, which measures 49mm versus a 45mm screen on the Series 7.

What’s happening? Photographs of protective cases for Apple Watch Pro, the company’s rumored rugged model, illustrate exactly how big the device is.

Why care? Because Apple Watch Pro should file as the biggest Apple Watch to date and you’re eager to learn how it might fit your wrist.

What to do? Tune in to Apple’s event tomorrow and follow iDownloadBlog for announcements of the next iPhone, Apple Watch Series and AirPods.

Leaked case images demonstrate Apple Watch Pro size

Australian leaker Sony Dickson on Twitter shared images of protective cases that accessory makers have produced based on their own leaked CAD drawings.

Assuming those technical drawings and CAD renders are correct, Apple Watch Pro will be noticeably bigger on your wrist than any current model.

The image at the top of the post illustrates exactly how big the upcoming Apple Watch Pro might really be. The picture’s bottom half shows, from left to right: A black protective case for the 49mm size of Apple Watch Pro, a 41mm protective case for Apple Watch Series 8 and one for last year’s Apple Watch Series 7.

The Apple Watch Pro display size should be 1.99 inches diagonally. By comparison, the 41mm version of the current Apple Watch Series 7 has a 1.691-inch display while its 45mm counterpart is equipped with a 1.901-inch one.

— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) September 5, 2023

According to Bloomberg’s reliable reporter Mark Gurman, Apple Watch Pro will have a flat display and round sides. Mark also says there will be new bands made specifically for the Apple Watch Pro that will “play into the extreme sports theme.” On top of that, there might be “some pretty info dense faces for fitness metrics.”

Who’s ready for the biggest Apple Watch to date?

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg’s reliable reporter on the Apple beat, has described a rugged Apple Watch Pro as Apple’s biggest smartwatch to date.

Another possibility is Apple keeps the SE price for the SE 2 and then retains the original Watch SE at a lower price. But given the similarities that seems unlikely. It would also be odd if Apple doesn’t discontinue the regular iPhone 13 given the similarities to the regular 14.

— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) September 6, 2023

With a seven percent larger screen measuring 49mm, the rumored Apple Watch Pro would be “a good bit bigger” than the current Apple Watch Series 7, whose screen measures 45mm. Even though it “won’t have those rumored flat sides,” Gurman insists the device’s display will “be bigger than most wrists.”

Leaked CAD renders, seen above, indicate that a rugged Apple Watch could also feature a programmable button on the lefthand side that the user might assign to different functions, such as starting a specific workout. In addition, this model could have a protrusion on the righthand side with both the Digital Crown and Side button embedded into it. Read: 30+ things to do after buying an Apple Watch

Poll: Could An Apple Watch Ever Replace An Iphone For You?

Do you think an Apple Watch could ever replace an iPhone for you?

Apple made its first move toward making the Apple Watch more independent of an iPhone when it launched LTE models in the Series 3 lineup. At that point, it became possible for the first time to leave your iPhone at home and retain full connectivity on your Watch, including phone calls.

The company took another step in the direction of a standalone Watch at WWDC, with watchOS 6. This, for the first time, includes a dedicated Apple Watch App Store, allowing apps to be downloaded directly to the Watch …

You do still need an iPhone at present to pair to your Watch, but it’s not hard to see the direction in which Apple is headed here. We’re clearly now not far from the point at which it will be possible to set up and use an Apple Watch without needing an iPhone.

For Apple, this means the potential for the Apple Watch to become the new iPhone in one respect: acting as the gateway drug to the Apple ecosystem. Right now, the iPhone is usually someone’s first Apple product purchase; when they start getting sold on the benefits of the Apple world, then an Apple Watch, iPad, or Mac may well follow.

If the Apple Watch can be turned into a true standalone product, then that may well be the first Apple product Android and Windows users buy. Once they own one, then an iPhone is likely next in line.

Of course, Apple’s expectation is that you’d still also have a smartphone, be it an iPhone or an Android device. But could an Apple Watch ever replace an iPhone for you?

A dumb question for some – but not for all?

For some, that will be a dumb question. A tiny Watch screen is no substitute for an iPhone one, and there are many apps that either aren’t available on the Apple Watch at present, or never could be. Nobody is ever going to be playing a flight sim or driving game on a watch, for example.

But is it necessarily a dumb question for all?

If I think about my own typical usage, I’m doing far more on my Watch than I would ever have imagined. For example, when I get a message (iMessage or Facebook message) while I’m mobile, it’s my Watch I look at to read it, not my iPhone. I will then often dictate a reply to my Watch.

All my Apple Pay transactions are done using the Watch.

At home, I mostly control our smart home tech with Siri. Ok, we happen to have HomePods at both ends of our apartment, so usually I can just speak a loud-ish ‘Hey Siri’ command and one of them will hear it, but pre-HomePod, it was my Watch I mostly used.

When I do want to use an app on a larger screen, I favor my iPad over my iPhone. So for me, the idea of having just an Apple Watch and an iPad isn’t a totally crazy one, even if I could never imagine doing it at this stage.

Obvious problems

Phone calls are a problem. Yes, every single Apple Watch owner in the world has done the Dick Tracy thing – at least once. Speaking into your wrist, and listening via the tiny Apple Watch speaker, is not remotely practical.

It’s fine, of course, if you’re already wearing headphones. With decent ones, with good microphones, it works just as well as using your iPhone. But having to scrabble around to put headphones on or in when you get an incoming call isn’t exactly a user-friendly experience.

Against that is the argument that voice calls are becoming increasingly rare. More and more of the things once done by phone are now done online, and I already know people who never answer calls – they always screen them and respond in their own time and using their own preferred medium.

Battery life currently makes the idea a non-starter for many. My Watch comfortably makes it through the day, and indeed I even found I could wear it day and night. The only time it struggles is with long-haul travel, and then only if I leave it on during the flight.

But if it were our primary device, we’d obviously be using it a lot more, and that’s going to hammer the battery. So we’d definitely need to see a significant improvement there.

Apple Glasses another contender

Apple has long been rumored to be working on Apple Glasses: some kind of Google Glass-style product, where we could effectively overcome the small screen problem by displaying a lot of information in front of our eyes using augmented reality.

Personally, I’m yet to be persuaded that this type of product really has a future for consumers. Enterprise, absolutely – I can think of scores of ways it could be useful. But are we really all going to go around wearing glasses all the time?

My personal view is that if this type of always-accessible augmented reality tech has a future for consumers, it’s via some kind of earphones, not glasses. Give me directions, read me my messages and so on. Ideally with a camera, so it can tell me who the heck that person is walking toward me and waving …

But in the shorter-term, a standalone Apple Watch seems a more likely next step.

Could an Apple Watch ever replace an iPhone for you?

On a scale of one to ten, how likely do you think it is that you’ll be able to substitute an Apple Watch for your iPhone sometime within the next few years? I’d say I’m somewhere around a five. And if you do think it could one day work for you, what problems would Apple need to solve first?

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This New Ai Algorithm Could Help Flying Cars Survive Windy Days

Dealing with wind is a part of flying through the air. Crosswinds can pose a challenge for pilots to overcome as they bring their airliners in for landings, or on a smaller level, a gust can push a drone around its small section of airspace. 

To give drones better maneuverability when flying in the wind, a team of engineers from CalTech have developed a deep neural network—an artificial intelligence tool—to allow a drone to be agile in the presence of blowing air. In a video, the researchers show off a quadcopter drone that, thanks to this software, can pull off figure-eight maneuvers and fly through a small gate, all in the presence of 27-mph-wind in a wind tunnel. 

The scientists first had to gather data to be able to train a neural network in order to make the flying machine pull off the stunts. It didn’t take much: just 12 minutes of flight time. “That’s very little data,” reflects Michael O’Connell, graduate student in the aerospace department at CalTech and one of the authors of a new study describing the work published Wednesday in the journal Science Robotics. This AI-driven work is called Neural-Fly, and it follows other similar work called Neural Lander and Neural-Swarm. 

During training for this latest Neural-Fly experiment, the drone flew in a wind tunnel in the presence of six different wind speeds, with 13.4 mph being the fastest. “We basically teach the drone, ‘This is what it looks like when you’re hit by 5-mph wind, 10-mph wind,’” O’Connell says. “The drone is able to learn what wind looks like, and then when we go fly our figure-eight test trajectory, it uses that experience, and it says, ‘I’ve seen this before.’” 

From that data, the team created the deep neural network that then allowed their flying machine to be skilled at carrying out maneuvers in the same wind tunnel, like zooming through a gate in a figure-eight pattern or cruising through two gates in ellipse shape. The speed the drone experienced in testing were faster than what it had encountered in training: about 27 miles per hour. That’s the maximum wind speed this wind tunnel could produce, notes Guanya Shi, another author on the paper and grad student at CalTech. In addition to needing just a small amount of data, the software runs on just a Raspberry Pi, an inexpensive piece of computing equipment. 

Soon-Jo Chung, a professor of aerospace and control and dynamics systems at CalTech, and coauthor on the same paper, says that the rate of errors that they see with the new system is between 2.5 – 4 times better when comparing it to the existing “state of the art” tech for precise drone flying. The deep neural network flying the drone also has “adaptive control,” Chung notes, calling it a “breakthrough method.” This means that the AI can respond adaptively to what happens in real time with the wind. 

Chung sees applications for this machine-learning system when it comes to a future in which our skies could be filled with more drones. Companies like FedEx are looking into using large drones to help move packages from one spot to another, and Alphabet-owned Wing is delivering consumer goods via small drones in Texas. Meanwhile, other firms are working on electric flying machines that can carry humans—these are air taxis that can take off and land vertically. The plans for those range from craft designed to fly themselves autonomously with a passenger on board, to those currently planned around human pilots. 

Drones that need to have an “ultimate safety guarantee” could benefit from software like this, Chung says. “The ultimate example is obviously, the flying cars, because they have to carry human passengers.” 

“We are hopefully making that future where we can have safe unmanned vehicles that can survive potentially any wind conditions—tornadoes, hurricanes, and heavy storms,” Chung adds. “I cannot say that we can achieve that immediately using our Neural-Fly, but we are making one great step forward toward that goal.” 

After all, whether the drone is carrying packages or people, it needs to land safely on its pad, even if the wind is blowing in an unpredictable way. Without the promise of a safe landing, the mission might have to be scrubbed before it gets off the ground, or the flying machine rerouted to a different location if it’s already buzzing through the air. 

Watch a short video on the tech, below:

Tile Slim (2024) Review: Real Slim, Not So Shady?

Tile Slim (1-pack): $34.99 / €34.99 / £29.99

Tile Slim (2-pack): $59.99

What’s good?

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

One of Tile’s most significant changes heading into 2023 is the brand-new “Lost & Found” feature. It incorporates the rear-mounted QR code seen above to make finding lost items easier. You’ll have to provide Tile with your phone number, but this allows people to contact you if they find your missing valuables.

Overall, the Tile Slim hasn’t changed too much physically. It’s still the same size as a credit card and just about a tenth of an inch thick. However, it now packs a robust IP67 rating for dust and water resistance, which is in line with the rest of Tile’s lineup. Of course, the Slim has long been the most water-resistant option thanks to the non-replaceable battery, but it’s nice to see an official rating. I, for one, am glad that Tile didn’t push a redesign on the Slim (2024) like its other tiles. It’s hard to see how it could get any slimmer, and the matte black finish looks great. It’s also by far the lightest of all the Tiles, weighing in at just 2.5g.

The Tile Slim offers three years of battery life, which is impressive given the increased Bluetooth range. It can now reach up to 250 feet, compared to 200 feet on the previous generation. Whether you’ll actually achieve that range is another matter — it’s not easy unless you live in a wide-open area.

There’s no way to attach the Tile Slim (2024) to anything, so if it falls out, you may be out of luck.

Tile doesn’t have as many users as Apple or Samsung, so you have to rely on Amazon Sidewalk for an extra boost to its tracking ecosystem. It brings nearby Ring and Echo devices into the mix, though Amazon users can opt-out of the feature and leave you back at square one. Unfortunately, Amazon Sidewalk is also limited to US users, so everyone else is relying solely on Tile’s network.

Considering the price, it’d also have also been great to see ultra-wideband (UWB) support for precision and/or augmented reality tracking, as we saw on the AirTag. Those features, however, are being reserved for the Tile Ultra due in 2023.

Tile Slim (2024) review: Should I buy it?

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

If you want to squash the nasty habit of losing your wallet or a favorite jacket, the Tile Slim (2024) might be for you. It offers support for both Android and iOS, and it’s easy to slip into tight spaces thanks to its slender design and lightweight build. While the Tile Slim matches the Tile Pro on price, it’ll be worth the cost for the unique design to many users.

Those of you committed to either the Apple or Samsung ecosystems may find that the AirTag ($29) or Galaxy SmartTag ($29) are a better fit. Samsung’s option offers a more traditional design while the AirTag offers precision tracking through UWB support. The last question you’ll have to ask yourself is whether you need Tile Premium or not. It adds Smart Alerts and product reimbursement for $29.99 per year, but the Tile Slim (2024) doesn’t get free battery replacements.

See also: The best Apple AirTag alternatives

Overall, the Tile Slim (2024) is the best card-shaped Bluetooth tracker around. There aren’t many direct competitors, and it’s hard to argue with three years of battery life and an IP67 rating. You can always save a little money when you buy more than one, so start picking your favorite valuables to track.

Tile Slim (2024) 1-pack

Tile’s wallet-friendly tracker is back and better than ever. The Tile Slim is IP67 rated with a three-year battery life to keep track of your wallet, a favorite book, or just about anything else.

See price at Amazon

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