Archived Post

Upcoming Apple Watch could sport a Digital Crown with a Touch ID sensor

Apple has been granted a patent (202004196) for a “crown for an electronic watch” that suggests an upcoming Apple Watch with a Touch ID sensor. Perhaps a sensor built into the Digital Crown itself.

The Digital Crown is Apple’s answer to the crown found on mechanical watches. Among other things, users can press the Digital Crown to return to the Home screen, much like the home button on iPhone.

In the patent data, Apple talks of a smartwatch crown that includes an optical sensing system to detect user interactions with the crown. Users could interact with a crown by rotating the crown or by sliding a finger over a surface of the crown. In order to sense the motion of the user’s finger, a crown may include a window on the part of the crown that the user touches when interacting with the crown. 

The window may allow an image of the user’s finger to be captured by an image sensor positioned within the smartwatch housing. Among other things, the watch could determine a speed and a direction of motion of the user’s finger and cause a graphical output that is displayed on the watch’s display to move at a speed and along a direction that is indicated by the detected motion.

Here’s the summary of the patent: “An electronic watch includes a housing defining a side surface of the electronic watch, a transparent cover coupled to the housing and defining a front surface of the electronic watch, an image-sensing element, and a crown extending from the side of the housing and defining an imaging surface. The crown may include a light-directing feature configured to direct, onto the image-sensing element, an image of an object in contact with the imaging surface.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.