Apple patent reveals next-generation force sensors for Apple devices

With the exception of the MacBook trackpad, Apple has pretty much dropped Force Touch (also known as 3D Touch) technology from its products. However, it looks like the company is still considering bringing back Force Touch, as new patents reveal next-gen force sensors for the Apple Watch, MacBook, and even iPhone.

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office released Thursday (via Apple obviously) several Apple patents related to force-pressure sensors. These patents cover how these sensors can be used for different purposes in Apple devices.

One of the patents reveals force sensors designed for “small form factor devices” like the Apple Watch and even AirPods. Regular force sensors occupy a “substantial volume” inside the product, which makes them difficult to install in some devices. With the new technology, Apple would be able to fabricate a pressure-sensitive surface using microelectromechanical fluid pressure sensors.

The patent shows an Apple Watch with a pressure-sensitive side button, indicating the company could replace physical buttons with new ones based on pressure sensors. Earlier this year, another patent showed a new digital crown that uses optical sensors instead of mechanical rotation, so maybe Apple is looking at new ways to make the Apple Watch sturdier with fewer parts. mobiles.

Interestingly, a second patent shows how the company tested pressure sensors to create smart bands for the Apple Watch that can detect blood pressure and even pulse wave velocity. Apple Watch Series 8 is rumored to have new health features, so we may see more later this year.

3D Touch back?

Other Apple patents show how microelectromechanical fluid pressure sensors can be used in MacBook trackpads and even under the iPhone screen to “accurately detect small or gradual changes in force.” The description, of course, leads us to believe that the technology would enable an experience similar to that with 3D Touch.

Patent figures show the technology combines several small modules together rather than using a single component, so this may allow Apple to bring back 3D Touch with technology that costs less and is easier to include in multiple products. (iPad, for example, never had 3D Touch due to its complexity).

It should be noted that there are no rumors of 3D Touch returning to the iPhone, so these technologies could take a few years to see the light of day. But what about you? Would you like to find 3D Touch? Let us know in the comments below.

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