Apple has all but discontinued Force Touch technology, also known as 3D touch, from its products apart from the trackpad on MacBooks quite some time ago. The technology allowed users to access certain functionality on their devices by pressing on the screen. Now, it appears that the Cuppertino based tech giant is planning to re-introduce the technology in the future Apple Watches, iPhones and MacBooks. As per a report in Patently Apple, US Patent & Trademark Office has granted the company patents for the next-generation force-pressure sensors.
Earlier this year, there were reports suggesting that Apple may replace Digital Crown on Apple Watch with new optical sensors. One of the patents strongly backs the claim as it reveals force sensors that are designed for “small form factor devices” such as the Apple Watch and AirPods. As regular sensors occupy “substantial volume,” the technology in the patent will be based on microelectromechanical fluid that will be able to make a pressure-sensitive surface. The patent application even contains an image of where the new sensors will be placed on Apple Watch. It is worth noting that the smartwatch in the image shared with the patent also sports a Digital Crown.
The second patent reveals that the company is working on smart Apple Watch bands with sensors. As per the report, the bands will be able to monitor blood pressure and even pulse wave velocity. Although Apple Watch Series 8 is rumoured to have new health features, it is unlikely that the new sensors will be introduced with the wearable.
Another Apple patent reveals how sensors based on microelectromechanical fluid may be used under iPhones display and inside trackpads of MacBooks. As per the patent, the sensors can “precisely detect small or gradual changes in force.” This may be a hint towards the next generation 3D touch. Technologies that Apple demonstrates in its patent applications do not always make it to the actual product. If the company is planning to incorporate the technology in future iPhones, it may take a few years.