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Apple patents smartwatch concept with gesture, proximity features

updated 10:05 am EDT, Tue July 22, 2014

Suggests basic and rejected iWatch capabilities

The US Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple a comprehensive patent titled Wrist-worn electronic device and methods therefor, which describes a number of the ideas the company has since integrated into its upcoming iWatch. The concept watch -- in diagrams referred to as the "iTime" -- would, for instance, be able to connect to devices like iPhones, iPads, and desktops. An unusual suggestion though is that it might be dependent on a special wristband, equipped with technologies such as accelerometers, GPS, haptic feedback, biometric sensors, and/or wireless receivers.

One part of the patent is dedicated to a proposed notification system, in which sound, visual, and/or vibration cues would alert people to an iPhone notification, which could then be addressed via either the iPhone or the watch. Some supported notification types would include things like calls, texts, news, and social networking updates, plus anything third-party developers choose to integrate. The wristband could also use proximity functions to alert someone if an iPhone was left behind or stolen.

The patent often suggests that the wristband would simply fit an existing media player, such as the iPod nano. One implementation involves a totally self-sufficient watch however, which is what Apple appears to have moved forward with. With or without the strap, people might be able to control the product using arm and wrist gestures such as shaking or tapping.

Apple first applied for the patent in 2011. The company is only expected to ship the iWatch later this year, and many of its features are still shrouded in mystery, although it is expected to link with iPhones and contain a number of health and fitness sensors.

by MacNN Staff



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