We’ve come to accept flashlights as a core feature on smartphones, serving the dual purpose of acting as a camera flash while taking pictures in low light conditions and as a torch in the absence of light. But a dedicated flashlight on smartwatches remains a niche feature. That could change soon as Apple is reportedly looking to add an external flashlight to Apple Watch. The company has been granted a patent for an external flashlight to be fitted on the bands of Apple Watch models.
According to a report in Apple Insider, which first spotted the US patent application, the iPhone maker has filed for a patent for a modular light assembly designed for integration with wearable devices. In detailed diagrams, the patent application, which was published Thursday, shows an external flashlight module on the edge of the Apple Watch band close to the watch body.
According to the patent, the modular light assembly could be controlled, turned on or off via both a dedicated switch and the controls on the watch display. The external flashlight may also come with a dedicated battery to reduce battery drain for the watch. Additionally, as Apple Watch models are IP rated for water resistance and are meant to be worn while swimming, the external light module might also come with liquid resistance features, like seals or O-rings, to prevent liquid ingress to sensitive internal components, the patent said.
The external flashlight would be directional in nature and will cast light perpendicular, or substantially perpendicular, to the plane defined by the watch display and parallel, or at least substantially parallel to the axis defined by the user’s hand when it passes through the watch band.
Apple Watch models currently include an integrated flashlight feature that works by illuminating the display with high-brightness white light. The display flashlight is not strong and cannot illuminate large dark areas beyond immediate surrounding. It also drains the watch battery. A dedicated flashlight module with its own battery would bring an effecting light source in low light conditions.
While most smartwatches also utilise display as source of light, some high-end watches, including some Garmin models, have dedicated external flashlights. While the patent application has been published, it’s hard to say when the flashlight feature would actually make it to an Apple Watch model.
This is not the first time Apple has tried to bring innovations to its Apple Watch bands. Earlier this year, the company was granted a patent that describes a system that can identify specific bands and respond with specific functions like modifying settings or customising the user interface.
More recently, Apple was also granted patents for a technology that would make it difficult for others to snoop on your iPhone or Mac display by limited the viewing angle of the screen.