Apple is investigating whether important Apple Watch components such as the display can perform double tasks through the integration of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, UWB or other antenna functions.
If you can’t make Apple Watch components smaller, you can potentially get each one to do more to earn their place in the device. Apple recently researched how the Apple Watch’s battery could replace the haptic engine and is now exploring ways to build the antenna into several different parts of the watch.
“Electronic devices with millimeter wave ranging functions” was recently introduced Patent application which aims to use a “phased array antenna”. Instead of installing a bulky antenna that takes up a lot of space in the Apple Watch, Apple wants to distribute the “wireless communication circuits” across the case.
“[It] may be desirable to implement at least some of the antennas in [a] Device that uses parts of electrical components that would otherwise not be used as antennas, “says Apple,” and that supports additional device functions. ”
“For example, it may be desirable to use antenna currents in components such as [the] Display) ”continues the patent application so that the display,“ a touch sensor ”or a“ housing ”can be used as an“ antenna for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, cellular frequencies and / or ”other frequencies without the need for bulky antenna structures Need to become. ”
Detail from the patent showing how a phased array could be used to receive radio signals
Such an embedded antenna would also spread the reception of radio signals. Circuitry coupled to this “phased antenna array” could then be configured to perform spatial distance operations on an object outside the watch “based on the signals it sends and receives.
The patent application describes several different ways of adding a phased array antenna and in particular “for transmitting first signals with a first frequency between 10 GHz and 300 GHz and a non-millimeter wave antenna for transmitting second signals with a second frequency below 10 GHz”.
Apple has not yet explained its purpose in the Apple Watch. The company is expanding the use of UWB and is expected to play a key role in the upcoming AirTags technology.
Regardless of the specific signals being sent or received, the principle is that this method can save space and possibly improve reception. Such an array could have received a wider range of signals in the same space that, for example, could accommodate a number of antennas.
The invention is credited to eight inventors. This includes Jayesh Nath, whose previous work included research into embedding antennas in screens.
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