Next Apple Watch could have Face ID and a smart strap to up your golf game

A strap to analyse sports performance and cameras for Face ID are in the works

Apple Watch
(Image credit: Apple)

The strap of a future Apple Watch could be used in combination with movement sensors to analyse and improve your sports performance.

By precisely measuring your grip of something like a golf club or baseball bat, then tracking your movement, the Watch could help up your game. This is the basis for a newly published Apple patent, which was first filed back in 2017 but was only made public this week.

First spotted by Patently Apple, the patent shows how a future Apple Watch strap could be fitted with EMG sensors. Short for electromyography, these sensors are used to measure electrical signals and evaluate muscle movement.

Also highlighted by the Apple documents is hardware for hydration detection and axial orientation of the wrist, to help the Watch understand exactly how you are moving while playing sports like golf and baseball.

(Image credit: Apple / USPTO)

The patent explains how the technology could “be used to determine how tightly the user is gripping the sports instrument...the motion sensors can measure the user’s performance in terms of, for example, acceleration, trajectory of the sports instrument...the device can provide a simulation of the user’s performance and/or feedback to the user on how to improve.”

A number of companies already sell devices which clip to a golf glove or tennis racket to measure technique and performance, including Zepp, Garmin and Rapsodo. We will be interested to see how Apple can potentially improve on these with a future generation of the Apple Watch.

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Separately, the expansive patent also talks about fitting a camera to the face of a future Apple wearable. This camera could be used to scan a barcode or QR code, the patent suggests, and can take photos and record video. Fitted to the front surface of the device (in other words, on the face of a watch), the camera could “capture images of the user,” the patent says, suggesting it could be used as a form of Face ID.

It has previously been reported that Apple is looking at ways to fit a future Watch with Face ID, so this new information doesn’t come as a surprise. It would make for a far more seamless experience than having to tap a PIN into the display, as is the case with today’s Watch.

As ever, we must add a caveat to explain how technology companies create patents on a regular basis, and just because one discusses potential new features, it doesn’t necessarily mean these will ever see the light of day. It is nevertheless interesting to see what approach Apple is taking to future wearables.

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Alistair Charlton

Alistair is a freelance automotive and technology journalist. He has bylines on esteemed sites such as the BBC, Forbes, TechRadar, and of best of all, T3, where he covers topics ranging from classic cars and men's lifestyle, to smart home technology, phones, electric cars, autonomy, Swiss watches, and much more besides. He is an experienced journalist, writing news, features, interviews and product reviews. If that didn't make him busy enough, he is also the co-host of the AutoChat podcast.