Apple Granted Patent For 'iTime' Smartwatch Design

7/22/2014 @ 1:23PM

Apple Granted Patent For 'iTime' Smartwatch Design

Apple has never publicly acknowledged that it’s working on a smartwatch, although it’s widely expected that an “iWatch” could be introduced as soon as this September. On Tuesday, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted a Patent to Apple for a smartwatch concept referred to as ‘iTime’ in the documents, lifting the veil of secrecy on the company’s wrist-based ambitions at least a little bit.

Plenty of patents are granted for products that never make it to market, and the application for this particular one was originally filed almost exactly three years ago, but it shows that this is a product category that Apple has been considering for some time now.

Because the patent application dates back to a time before the world even knew the iPhone 4S and Siri, perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that it centers largely around a “smart wristband” sort of concept in which the actual watch band contains circuitry and sensors and acts as a sort of docking station for a small media player like an iPod Nano, allowing the whole setup to connect to a nearby computer or smartphone.

What’s really interesting about this particular patent is the final drawing included, which details an alternate, stand-alone smart watch design that doesn’t rely on an inserted media player for its central unit. In other words, it resembles a sort of combination between a fitness-tracking wearable band and the early smartwatches we’ve seen from the likes of Pebble, Samsung’s Gear line and the first two Android Wear smartwatches launched in June.

I’ve been wearing one of those Android Wear watches, LG’s G Watch, for the past few weeks. With the support of a widespread and powerful ecosystem like Android behind it, it makes for a surprisingly useful new category of product, but this first-round of smartwatches just barely taps into the potential of the form factor.

Based on what we saw at WWDC of Apple’s plans for health, fitness and home automation, a new wearable (or wearables) could fit perfectly into the company’s grand scheme. And if this patent is any indication, they’ve already been devising that scheme for years.


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