In what amounts to one of the more telling signs that Apple could be working on the so-called “iWatch” smartwatch, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple with an exhaustive patent for an electronic wristwatch and various possible implementations of the device.
From a broad perspective, the patent details an electronic wristband that has a receptacle or holder for another electronic device, such as an iPhone or iPad. In the patent filing, which dates back to July 2011, Apple specifically mentions the iPod nano by name in its comprehensive description of the smartwatch.
The wristband system would provide electronic circuity to the paired device, with Apple referencing an “accelerometer, GPS modules, wireless communication packages and haptic feedback mechanisms” as potential components for the advanced strap structure.
The invention goes on to describe how the smartwatch, which is dubbed as “iTime” in one of the patent illustrations, could pair with nearby devices like an iPhone or Mac to exchange information through either wired or wireless communication at the user’s request.
AppleInsider provides further detail about how that could work:
“In one embodiment, the watch is able to receive a notification initiated by a nearby phone, then alert the user to the event through audio, visual or haptic feedback (vibrations). Once alerted, the user has the option to take out their iPhone or dive into the notification directly on the watch, whether it be onscreen or through audio output like system speakers or headphones.”
The patent filing describes other potential embodiments of the smartwatch that would allow for incoming phone calls, text messages, social network feeds and other information directly on its display. The device could also provide other proximity-based controls and notifications for paired media players and other portable devices.
Apple also provides one illustration of a smartwatch that does not require an additional device, bundling all components of the electronic wristwatch into one enclosure. That is likely the approach that Apple has taken with the oft-rumored iWatch, which is expected to be unveiled later this year.
Apple was granted U.S. Patent No. 8,787,006, crediting Albert J. Golko, Mathias W. Schmidt and Felix Alvarez as its inventors.
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