A recent US patent granted to Apple bolstered rumours that the California-based company has designs on a smartwatch which is expected to launch this fall.
Published on Tuesday by the U.S. Patent and Tradebook Office, the tech giant was granted Patent No. 8,787,006 originally filed in 2011, it describes an electronic wrist band possible with a touch screen that could work in conjunction with other portable devices, such as an iPhone or iPad, and communicates via Bluetooth. The patented device is called iTime.
Alerts can be sent to the watch, including notifications about incoming phone calls, text messages, social and news network feeds to be displayed on the wristband's display. The user will be made aware of the event through haptic feedback (vibrations) or audio visual cues. Once alerted, the user can choose to take out their iPhone or look into the notification directly on the watch, whether it be it audio output like system speakers, headphones or through onscreen.
The iTime also features a smart strap with sensors built in that which is apparently interchangeable, presumably to activate additional functionality. It is still not clear if different straps will offer different features and abilities. Unlike previous smartwatch offerings from other major tech manufacturers, Apple has put forth the strap in the patent because this smartstrap appears to be central to iTime’s overall capability to carry out functions.
Possible functions handled directly by the iTime's smartstrap could include accelerometers, GPS functionality, haptic feedback or sensing of wrist gestures as commands. The iTime might respond to certain movements from its user. For example, the tech giant said a wearer might bounce, shake or tap his wrist to receive or decline a phone call or notification. Additionally the patent includes descriptions of sensors for motion detection and measuring heart rate.
While it is still unknown what material the device will be made of, Apple said the wrist band would be made of a material that is non-metal. Plastic, Rubber, silicone, mylar and vinyl were cited as possibilities. According to latest rumors the iTime will feature a somewhat curved, 2.5-inch OLED display and will be implemented as three different models.
It appears that the core functionality of the device is quite similar to that of other smartwatches; however, it is still not clear how users will be able to interact with their mobile devices as paired to Apple's iTime.