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Apple Patents Watch Band That Could ID You From Your Wrist Skin

PatentlyApple has spotted several patents that suggest Apple is playing with the idea of making the Apple Watch’s band identify users via their wrist’s skin texture and arm hair. TechCrunch reports: The first patent describes a sensor built into the Watch or the watch’s band that could use infrared to build a thermal image of your wrist and its identifying traits (like skin texture/arm hair) to identify who is wearing it — sort of like a fingerprint, but from your wrist. Unlike most of Apple’s other devices, the Apple Watch doesn’t currently have any sort of built-in biometrics for unlocking — there’s no thumbprint sensor for Touch ID, or camera for Face ID. Unlocking your Apple Watch means poking at the screen to punch in a PIN (or, if you’ve configured it to unlock when you unlock your phone, doing that). A sensor setup like this could make the unlocking process automatic without the need to unlock your phone.

The second granted patent describes a Watch band that can adjust itself on the fly — think Nike’s self-tightening shoes, but on your wrist. If the Watch detects that it’s sliding while you’re running (or if the aforementioned thermal sensors need a closer look at your wrist skin) tensioners in the device could tighten or loosen the band on command. Finally, a third granted patent tinkers with the idea of a Watch band with built-in light-up indicators — like, say, a notification light for incoming texts, or a meter that fills up to tell you at-a-glance how much distance you’ve got left on your run, or a stripe that glows yellow when you’ve got something on your calendar in the next hour. All of this can already be done on the Watch’s screen, of course — this would just allow for it without having to power up the entire display.

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