It appears as though the Apple Watch Series 4 could be used to debut Face ID unlocking from the wrist, following in the path of the iPhone X.
A filing uncovered by Patently Apple suggests the Cupertino giant is looking into the possibility of bringing its latest unlocking technology to the smartwatch. Currently, the feature is only available through Apple's top-end smartphone, and works by identifying the user through the front-facing camera.
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This means that if the feature were to make its way to the wrist, the Apple Watch would also have to include a camera, as described in the patent. It would also mark a significant shift away from the current method of unlocking the Watch, which works largely by sensing if it's being worn by the user.
That's not all, though, with the patent also alluding to a new sensor-packed strap that could be used to track and analyse sports performance. Interestingly, this relates to sports such as baseball, American football, golf and weightlifting, in which something is being gripped.
This isn't the first time we've seen the possibility of smart bands hinted for the Watch, with this example describing a system whereby elastic sections of the strap will feature flexible sensors that can pick up on expansion or contraction of muscles around the wrist and determine a movement.
As Patently Apple describes, some examples feature one or more electromyography (EMG) sensors that can be included to measure the user's electrical signals and muscle activity. Measurements from the EMG strap could potentially also be used alongside different sensors, such as those from a photoplethysmogram (PPG) sensor, to determine specific user movements.
Of course, while this patent describes two fairly substantial changes to the Apple Watch, whether they do indeed make it to a future iteration of the device remains to be seen. After all, the company has a patent list a mile long with unused ideas. This one though doesn't sound too outrageous to think it will at some point turn up on Apple's smartwatch.