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Apple Outlines Smart Wristband with Phone Connectivity and Gesture Control in New Patent

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today granted Apple a patent that describes a wrist-worn device containing sensors and wireless radios that allow it to communicate with other devices such as the iPhone, iPad or Mac (Via AppleInsider). It is a comprehensive patent that describes some of the core features of Apple's rumored iWatch device.

itime-patent
Front view of a device similar to a sixth-generation iPod nano docked into wristband

The invention details a modular device, identified in the patent as the "iTime", that features a wrist-worn, sensor-laden strap and potentially removable modules. The modules, such as a media player, can snap into a wristband, which contains add-ons like GPS and a Wi-Fi radio that increase the functionality of the device. The system is reminiscent of the sixth-generation iPod nano, which fits a wristband to become a wearable media player.
The invention pertains to an electronic wristwatch. According to one embodiment, an electronic wristband can provide additional electrical circuitry or devices that can be made available for use as or with an electronic device. In one embodiment, the electronic device can be a mobile electronic device that can be removably coupled to the electronic wristband which provides the additional circuitry or devices. Advantageously, the electronic device can utilize the additional electrical circuitry or devices provided within the electronic wristband to augment the capabilities of the electronic device. In another embodiment, the electronic device can be integrally formed with the electronic wristband which provides the additional circuitry or devices.
itime_side
Side view showing wristband with docking connector (314)

Apple also describes a method of connecting the smartwatch to a mobile device that allows for the display of incoming calls, text messages and other alerts on the wrist-worn display. In another embodiment, the device can alert the user when it is out of range and thus at risk of being lost or stolen. The patent also contains provisions for movement-based controls of the wristwatch device.

Apple is rumored to be working on the iWatch, a smartwatch device that could debut later this year. Rumors suggests the wristband may include sensors to monitor activity levels, heart rate and other vital health functions. The device likely will share its data with iOS via the new Health app in iOS 8.

Related roundup: Apple Watch

Top Rated Comments

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13 weeks ago

It's square, ugh!!!


of course they're not going to put the ACTUAL shape and design in a patent. it's just a placeholder drawing.

this patent is evidence enough.

#Fall2014
Rating: 10 Votes
13 weeks ago

It's square, ugh!!!


How does a circular display provide a better user experience?
Rating: 7 Votes
13 weeks ago

It doesn't and it is kind of dumb. What would you even be able to fit on the screen if it were circle.


A black bar :p

Thumb resize.

Thumb resize.

Thumb resize.
Rating: 7 Votes
13 weeks ago
I hope the iWatch can transform into a robot when you remove it from its wristband!

Rating: 6 Votes
13 weeks ago

It may not necessarily, but any old person (not age-wise, just random) walking down the street could look at your wrist and say "that's a smart watch". They'd immediately think that it's a regular watch if it were square. And anyways, iOS could be formatted to work on circular watches if that's what Apple plans to do.


What? "Dumb" watches are overwhelmingly circular. How would releasing a square smart watch make people think its a regular watch anymore than a circular one would?
Rating: 5 Votes
13 weeks ago

I actually like the square look i think it is more functional and looks more modern.


But therein lies the problem with the whole iWatch rumor. Watches are jewelry. They've had 100+ years in "the wild" and people have come to appreciate them in every shape, depth, style, width, height, color, etc. We've got heavy duty metal vs. dress w/strap. We've got divers, pilots, everyday, mickey mouse, et all too. There's Rolex & Omega vs. Timex & Swatch and everything in between.

As jewelry, there is such diverse tastes in watch designs. Go to bing or google images and type in "watch designs" and then scroll through the pages of thumbnails. Where you feel as you do about the square look, others will want round, landscape vs. portrait rectangles, octagons, hexagons, and all kinds of other shapes, designs, colors, faces, etc. Should the metal be gold, silver, black, white, ? Should there be metal? Should the strap be metal, plastic, leather, alligator, et all and wide, thin or something in between?

In the last week I traveled a LOT and was thinking about this concept as part of those travels. So I paid a bit more attention to what was on people's arms. The variety was endless. I can't even make a case that a particular shape or type or color was obviously more popular. There is no "99.9% of people want a..." argument here. And thus, I find it hard to imagine Apple rolling out a singular design that can appeal to the masses.

When I was in college, I worked in retail jewelry. The stores in which I worked would dedicate 2-5 cases to a wide range of watch designs. There was no favorite… no one design that most people would buy. Instead, every buyer bought on what their own subjective sense of watch design favored. A Seiko, Wittnauer, Tag, Gucci, Longines, Bulova, Movado, etc could not come up with a singular design that would appeal to everyone. Instead, what appealed to everyone was design diversity. NOT complying with a mainstream design seemed to be the better play.

But what about iPhone and iPad? Prior to iPhone, smart phones were not that common. Tablets had been around but were also fringe. There was not 100+ years of endlessly diverse designs already well established in those markets. While the crowd here (and then some) will jump on anything from Apple, it's the much larger crowd beyond here that needs to buy to make an iWatch the next iPhone & iPad. While I won't completely dismiss the possibility, I find it hard to imagine that the masses would give up on the diversity of design of this particular piece of jewelry to comply with a singular "best" design. Especially for men, the watch is usually the ONE piece of jewelry they want to wear. Do they really want to blend in with all other men if the masses would adopt it?

If a singular design of this can roar, I think the iUniform must be right on it's heels. And I only half joke there. Like watch design, we've got thousands of years of clothing fashion diversity. Just as I can't hardly imagine everyone adopting a singular uniform, I find it hard to imagine everyone adopting a singular watch design.
Rating: 4 Votes
13 weeks ago
It was filed in Jan 2011 during a time when people were mounting Nano's to wristbands, so I'm guessing the iWatch will probably be nothing like this.
Rating: 4 Votes
13 weeks ago

Does anyone read before they post? It states that the image on the patent is an iPod Nano in a wrist watch band.


Did you read before your post?


Front view of a device similar to a sixth-generation iPod nano docked into wristband

Rating: 4 Votes
13 weeks ago

Still not convinced this smart watch thing is ever going to happen. Pointless and trivial use of technology.


Current smartwatches are pointless and trivial pieces of technology. They are tethered to a smart phone and only replicate what the smart phone already does but in a far inferior way. Current smartwatch manufacturers aren't getting it; they aren't implementing technologies that a smartphone can't do but a smartwatch could.

A smartwatch needs to be your own personal connection to the digital world. Think about it: a smartwatch would always be with you, always be connected to you wherever you go. It would be your body's digital identifier and microchip. Your smartwatch could know if it is you wearing it and when you are provide you access to all your secure services. It would be like touch ID x 10. You wouldn't need passwords, pin codes or keys.

It knows your location, your biometrics and your activities because it is always connected to you. It then not only could revolutionize the medical and fitness industry but provide intimate access to the internet of things. It could sense if you are cold to control the thermostat, it would know it is you walking up to your car and automatically unlock and start it, it would know you are home and unlock the front door or driving a car to open the garage. A smartphone can do many of these things but in a more manual way because it is not always with you and not always attached to you or aware of you biometrics or identity. The beauty of a smartwatch is it could do so many things in the background and the screen almost doesn't matter. The functionality is provided by its connection to you not by it bringing another screen to your wrist.

I hope that Apple recognizes this when making the iWatch and doesn't center it around technology and features already in and optimized for smartphones. :apple:
Rating: 3 Votes
13 weeks ago
Look for a Design Patent to be filed the day the iWatch is revealed to the public. The design patent will protect the look for the watch vs the functionality of it (which is what this utility patent does)
Rating: 3 Votes

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