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New Wearable Computer Patent Hints at Apple iWatch

Apple wearable computer patent

[Apple Insider]

Apple’s iWatch rumor has picked up serious steam within the last two weeks. After Apple’s iWatch rumors started to surface with each passing day, it was said that Google would create a smartphone watch. Recent photos leaked from Samsung indicate that Samsung is also considering a smart watch with its newest round of smartphones that will debut later this Spring. Apple has not yet commented as to whether or not the rumors are true, but there are some indications that the California Fruit is getting serious about its original iWatch.

This past week brought forth a new Apple patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Organization (USPTO). Titled “Personal Items Network and Associated Methods,” the patent calls for a network that will help an individual track down a lost item, as well as monitor the individual’s movements and heart rate. According to Jim Tanous of The Mac Observer, here is the extent of the new patent capability:

“…the lengthy and detailed patent filing builds on hundreds of previous inventions to describe a complex method of monitoring movement, environmental conditions, and other factors relevant to wearable computers. The methods described by the patent include Apple’s vision for a series of wirelessly-linked sensors that work together to track, analyze, and communicate data such as movement, force, environmental conditions, and health information” (Jim Tanous, “New Apple Patent May Hint at Features at Rumored ‘iWatch'”).

The patent also provides diagrams such as a bike, watch strap, and a strap worn during exercise. These diagrams cover both position monitoring (where an individual is, the location of a tracked package) as well as event monitoring (the number of miles ran or walked). This patent, thus, reveals two things from Apple. First, Apple intends to create an iWatch, as demonstrated by its wrist strap diagram on the patent. Secondly, Apple intends for its iPod to be replaced by the iWatch, since it would substitute in place of the current iPod Nano — a device that many made into a watch after Apple released it to the public. The device would also be attached to a bike when riding and could be used for fitness purposes. All of these would lead to an iPhone replacement in everyday, physical activity. If an individual has a strap that attaches to the bike, he or she will not need a smartphone to do physical fitness events like walking, running, or biking. This will make it easier to exercise than before, but it may lead to a replacement of the iPhone, as some tech writers (such as those at Business Insider) suggests.

While the patent may not be enough to convince you (since there are many patents whose items do not end up in the production line), take note of the fact that it has also been rumored this week by sources working close to Apple that Apple is already testing prototypes of the new smart watch concept (according to NY Times and the Wall Street Journal). Bloomberg News spoke with two inside people who said that there is a team of 100 engineers and designers working on what will become Apple’s iWatch. What features can we expect from the watch? “Siri voice control support, notification support, mobile payment features, navigation support, and caller ID” (Jeff Gamet, “Apple’s iWatch Team Apparently 100 Strong”; macobserver).

Is it possible for the iPhone to be replaced by the iWatch? For right now, it’s not possible. Apple has its iPhone to credit for the majority of its sales, and it is not smart (business-wise) to place a company’s entire future on a product that has yet to hit store shelves. It will also take some time for smart watches to become popular, as it has taken for smartphones. Individuals will always need smartphones, and smartphone capabilities such as WiFi hotspot, among others, will keep smartphones in style. Still, it is true that Apple (Samsung, as well) will produce smart watches this year that seek to provide an even more mobile experience for consumers than technologies of the past. The only question that now remains is, which smart watch will arrive at the market first?