Early Apple Watch 4 rumour teases self-adjusting watch strap design

The Apple Watch 4 could have a mechanism that tightens and loosens its strap automatically, if a recent filing granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is to be believed.

USPTO patent number 9,781,984 (H/T AppleInsider) describes a watch band that features “dynamic fit adjustment for wearable electronic devices” – in other words, a self-adjusting Apple Watch strap that could break cover when the successor to 2017’s Apple Watch 3 is revealed in the future.

Rather than relying on traditional holes on straps, the patent demonstrates a mechanism that stretches, expands and contracts the watch strap so that it fits perfectly for its wearer at any given time.

Why is this important? Well, watch straps typically become loose over time due to sweat, wear and tear, and a number of other factors. So a technology that adjusts the strap automatically could be a major boon for Apple Watch fans tired of having to regularly fine-tune their smartwatch’s fit.

As well as being important for comfort and convenience, a self-adjusting band would also help the device’s sensors gather accurate health and fitness information, as poorly fitted wearables typically harvest equally poor data.

Apple’s patent doesn’t say how such a system would work, but it does suggest that a self-adjusting strap could be made possible by internal ratcheting, embedded memory wires, or the use of gas or fluid bladders that can expand and contract.

The patent also notes that the self-adjusting system could trigger itself automatically by reading sensor information collected by the watch, or allow for customised strap fits to be created by the wearer through tapping away at the Apple Watch’s display.

There’s no indication when this tech could find its way into the next Apple Watch, but given the Cupertino-based firm just released a third-generation Apple Watch full of iterative upgrades, Apple may want something a little more headline-grabbing for the next Apple Watch version.

Related: Apple Watch 3 vs Fitbit Ionic

Is a self-adjusting strap useful or just a gimmick? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.