(Pocket-lint) - Apple has filed a number of patents that suggest the company is looking at next-generation Force Touch technology which might appear in future models of the Apple Watch, AirPods or iPhone.
The patents filed to the US Patent & Trademark Office were discovered by PatentlyApple (via 9to5Mac) and they refer to force-pressure sensors and their various uses in different Apple devices.
One of the patents discusses the use of force sensors in "small form factor devices", which would presumably refer to products like the Apple Watch and AirPods. The patent shows an Apple Watch with a pressure-sensitive side button, which could allow for more features on a future model like the Series 8, without adding extra physical buttons.
There's also another patent that refers to pressure sensors in smart bands, allowing them to detect blood pressure and pulse wave velocity. It's long been rumoured that future models of the Apple Watch will offer more in terms of health features like blood pressure monitoring and blood sugar levels, though it's not clear how far in the future this will be.
Another of the patents presented how microelectromechanical fluid pressure sensors could be used within the MacBook's trackpad or beneath the iPhone's display in order to "precisely detect small or gradual changes in force."
This is similar to what 3D Touch offered, which has since been replaced by Haptic Touch in iPhones. The 3D Touch technology did allow for slightly more features like Peek and Pop, though it was more complicated to implement than Haptic Touch is. Perhaps the new technology mentioned in the patent will allow for the same features as 3D Touch but via a more simple delivery.
Keep in mind that a patent filing isn't a guarantee a feature will launch, so don't get too excited just yet. A pressure-sensitive button or buttons on the Apple Watch would make sense though.