With Apple Watch Series 5 almost here, Series 6 could be unlocked by the skin on your wrist

Apple patent reveals plans for a Touch ID-style system which identifies you from the skin on your wrist

(Image credit: Unsplash)

Just days before Apple is due to reveal the new Apple Watch Series 5, the company's plans for future smartwatches have been revealed – and there could be some very interesting developments on the horizon.

Three patents granted to Apple and made public this week reveal what the iPhone maker has up its sleeve for future versions of the Watch. These include a Touch ID-style system which unlocks the Watch when it recognises the skin of its owner's wrist.

By using an infrared thermal imaging sensor, the future Apple wearable is intended to identify its owner by their "skin texture pattern," the patent - which was first discovered by PatentlyApple - explains.

This technology is said to read patterns in the texture of the wearer's skin, along with the pattern of hair on their arm.

Such a system, if Apple can make it work reliably, would make a safer and more convenient alternative to how the Watch is currently secured with a PIN code. Not only is entering the PIN on the Watch's small display tricky, it can also be seen by anyone stood next to you, who could then steal your Watch and access it by knowing the PIN.

(Image credit: Apple / USPTO)

A second patent filed by Apple and made public this week reveals plans to develop a watch strap which lights up to show notifications, or how much of a run or your daily step goal you have completed.

Finally, a third new patent explains how a future Apple wearable could feature a strap which automatically tightens or loosens to maintain a perfect balance between security and comfort.

The patent explains how one or more actuators embedded in the strap could recognise when it is too loose or too tight, then adjust accordingly. This would lead to a future Apple Watch loosening slightly when exercising, then tightening up again after, or when it detects that its heart rate monitor isn't making good enough contact with the wearer's skin.

This all sounds very exciting, and could be why we're not expecting any major hardware updates for the Apple Watch Series 5 this year. However, we should include the usual caveat when looking at patents - companies file such documents all the time, and their existence does not necessarily mean the technologies they explain will ever see the light of day.

That said, an Apple Watch Series 6 with biometric security and notification lights on a self-tightening strap is something we would be very excited to see.

All we know for now is that Apple has a launch event on September 10, where we expect to see the debut of the Apple Watch Series 5 and iPhone 11.

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.