Choosing the best Apple Watch band to go with your new smartwatch is either fun or an expensive headache, depending on your feelings about them – but Apple could be working on a special color-changing band that'll match both your mood and clothes.
According to a newly-granted patent spotted by Apple Insider – titled "Watch Band with adjustable color" – Apple could be developing a strap with special "electrochromic features" that can either be adjusted to either match your attire or "provide a notification to the user."
To achieve this, the Watch band would seemingly be made from a fabric that's woven from filaments. These filaments would include those electrochromic features, which means they can make reversible color changes. A similar tech is used in smart windows, which can change from light to dark to save energy costs.
The patent goes on to explain how you might operate the chameleon-like Watch band. "The color selections can be made and adjusted without removing and exchanging the watch band," Apple says.
Intriguingly, the patent also states that "the color-adjustable elements of the watch band can be arranged and independently controlled". which means they could potentially show icons, shapes or texts. This means Apple could be looking into new ways to serve up notifications or updates on your Activity progress.
Like all patents, this Apple Watch example doesn't mean it's definitely something that the tech giant is working on. But it is an intriguing concept that could be a powerful way to get future Apple Watch owners to upgrade from already-powerful models like the Apple Watch 8.
Analysis: An innovative spark for smartwatches?
The best smartwatches have hit something of a plateau, with recent models like the Apple Watch 8 proving to be the smallest of incremental updates. It's difficult to pack more features into their rigid form factors – which is why Apple and Samsung are seemingly looking outside the watch itself for new innovations, including the concept of smart straps.
We recently saw a Samsung Galaxy Watch patent describe a smartwatch that contains a tiny projector that can “beam information from the outer side of its housing onto the back side of the user's hand”. That's not dissimilar to Apple's concept, with both exploring ways to display information outside of a watch's casing.
A color-changing watch band could certainly appeal to those who don't want to shell out for several different straps. But it could be even more useful from a health and fitness perspective. Apple just announced some long-term heart health studies that are powered by the Apple Watch, built around the idea that its smartwatch "can help make the invisible, visible".
With heart health notifications – for high, low, and irregular rhythms – an increasingly important part of the Apple Watch, it's possible that it could see color-changing accessories as another way for its wearable to alert both owners and people nearby when something is awry.
Alternatively, it could simply be channeling the spirit of 90s 'mood rings', which used color-changing crystals to apparently reflect the wearer's state of mind and inner emotional state. For those of a certain age, any Apple wearable that was compatible with a color-changing 'mood ring' strap would automatically become the best Apple Watch ever made. That is if the watches aren't banned in the US.
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Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.