If you compare the Apple Watch Series 5 with the first Apple Watch from 2015 today, you will only notice a few external changes in detail. However, a future Apple smartwatch could lack a clearly visible feature.
The Digital Crown is a characteristic feature of the Apple Watch. Since day one, you use this physical button to scroll through the menu, text messages, switch between apps, and return to your watch face. But now it seems like Apple is planning to remove this button and replace it with a flat sensor.
A recently-discovered Apple patent describes that the next-generation Apple Watch will include an optical sensor that is intended to register and respond to touch.
The Digital Crown works differently from mechanical crowns and uses sensors to detect the rotary movement. With the new design, there will be fewer chances that the crown could break during normal use or fall. Besides, it saves the space in your Apple Watch, as space is also needed on the inside. This could be used for a larger battery or other components to provide the user with an overall better watch. The fewer moving parts, the smaller the chance of hardware failures.
As you can see in the sketch above, the Apple Watch becomes flat on both sides. By making swipe movements over the sensor, you could scroll through the interface. In addition, Apple could not only integrate one sensor but several sensors. Biometric sensors or sensors for images, pressure, light, touch, force, temperature, position, or movement are conceivable, some of which could also be used for health features.
The engineers also claimed that the new digital crown is not only touch-sensitive but could even recognize gestures. Another part of the patent describes how one of the inventors has devised a way in which watch bands can automatically adjust to the wrist.
Of course, this is simply a patent, and it is unclear if Apple will ever proceed with such a design. But it does give an interesting glimpse into the world of Apple’s development department.