Reserve Strap, a company that was first to introduce a strap for the Apple Watch that allows you to charge the watch on the go, has recently announced a revised design of their strap which will take advantage of the hidden 6 pin port on the Apple Watch.
The port is hidden inside the slot where the strap connects to the Apple Watch, making it a convenient place for "smart straps" to connect and communicate to the watch. This means aftermarket bands and straps could create extensions to the device, for example additional battery life in the case of Reserve Strap — but there are other potential use cases for smart straps.
For the Reserve Strap, the company had originally planned on using magnetic wireless charging, however after getting their hands on the Apple Watch, they have confirmed that the hidden port can in fact charge the watch:
Our engineers have been able to independently confirm that the 6 pin diagnostic port underneath the Apple Watch case can be used for charging. The Reserve Strap will take advantage of this using a simple, retractable connector instead of the previous inductive charging cradle design… By utilizing this port instead of wirelessly charging, we’ve been able to achieve a higher charge capacity and quicker, more efficient charging times while also improving durability and eliminating any interference with Apple Watch functionality including taptic feedback and heartrate sensors.
It raises the question of how other accessory makers will take advantage of this discovery? For example since flexible solar cells are on the way, a solar watch band seems like a practical solution. Other examples could be additional sensors such as blood glucose-level detector embedded in a smart strap.
In the meantime, Reserve Strap is up for preorder for $249 on their site.