or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › Apple granted comprehensive 'iTime' smartwatch patent with in-strap circuitry, arm gesture support
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Apple granted comprehensive 'iTime' smartwatch patent with in-strap circuitry, arm gesture support

post #1 of 100
Thread Starter 
In one of the clearest signs that Apple is -- and has been -- working on a smartwatch device, the Cupertino company was on Tuesday granted a patent for a wrist-worn wearable with augmented strap capabilities, support for arm and wrist gestures, advanced proximity-sensing circuitry and much more.


Source: USPTO


As published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,787,006 for a "Wrist-worn electronic device and methods therefor" describes a device (dubbed "iTime" in one illustration) that fits squarely with speculation regarding a so-called "iWatch" smartwatch.

The invention's main claims, as the title implies, revolve around a wrist-worn device that can connect with other portables like iPhones and iPads, computers, or even the watch's straps, which integrate sensors and other circuitry to augment device performance.

Basically, a majority of the property details what can be considered a "smart wristband" that features a receptacle for a portable media player. What comes later in the patent, however, potentially reveals Apple's smartwatch aspirations.

As noted, much of the invention pertains to a convertible style smartwatch that incorporates a central electronic device removably secured to an advanced strap strap system. The idea harkens back to the days of Apple's sixth-generation iPod nano, which spawned a cottage industry for ad-hoc solutions that turned the media player into a wristwatch-style device. In fact, Apple's patent background alludes to the iPod nano by name.




Operationally, the system is based on the idea of converting the square-shaped iPod nano into a smartwatch. Initial claims note the media player can be inserted into specially-made straps that integrate various electrical components to augment the device's capabilities. The document mentions parts like accelerometers, GPS modules, wireless communication packages and haptic feedback mechanisms as potential candidates for inclusion in the advanced strap structure.

Things start to get interesting when Apple describes what it calls a "personal wireless environment." In essence, the invention illustrates an ecosystem in which the electronic wristwatch can interact with nearby devices like an iPhone, laptop or desktop computer.

Apple goes on to detail how this "piconet" works. Through either wired or wireless communication protocols, the wristwatch can operatively connect to a cellular or Internet-connected device. In this way, information can be exchanged from iPhone to watch, or watch to iPhone, either automatically or at a user's request.




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.

Various embodiments allow for incoming phone calls, text messages, social and news network feeds, among other information, to be displayed on the wristband's display. Apps can tap into the functionality and provide their own notifications, assumedly through iOS APIs. Data is "pushed" to the wearable dynamically, but more importantly users are able to handle the information directly by interacting with the source device.

For example, the wristwatch provides controls for a media player, while other options include control over apps or system-level functions.

Apple is describing a wristband-based remote input/output interface with high-level controls for a mobile phone, otherwise known as a smartwatch.

The patent goes further, noting the wristband can also be linked to an iPhone in order to alert the user when it is left behind, stolen or out of range. While not mentioned in the IP, an appropriate communications protocol for such functionality would be Bluetooth 4.0, which supports proximity-based operations.

The remainder of Apple's patent looks at physical embodiments of the invention, many of which deal with connecting and securing a portable media player like the aforementioned iPod nano.




There is, however, a key embodiment that does not require any additional devices. As illustrated in the image above, all components can be incorporated into a single enclosure, complete with display, sensors, circuitry and I/O controls.

Specifically, electronics available for integration in either the smartwatch core unit or surrounding strap structure include haptic mechanisms, various sensors, biometric components, GPS modules, NFC antennas, Bluetooth packages, proximity detectors and more.

Finally, tacked on to the end of the document is a contingency for arm and wrist gestures. Instead of controlling the smartwatch via fingers, users would be able to shake, bounce, tap or otherwise interact with the device through physical movements. Gesture combinations can be assigned to certain device controls. For example, an incoming call may be answered by a single wrist shake, or declined with two shakes and a tap.

Apple is widely expected to introduce an "iWatch" device with functionality very similar to that described in the patent above. Previously the stuff of rumors, evidence that the connected device exists is quickly mounting. According to the most recent speculation, Apple's first foray into the wearables game may sport a "slightly curved" 2.5-inch OLED display and could come in three sizes. The device is also said to have a heavy focus on health and wellness, with possible fitness tracking functions built-in.

While a specific launch date -- and the product itself -- has yet to be revealed, noted KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo forecasts iWatch production to begin in November ahead of a December or early 2015 rollout.

Apple's comprehensive "iTime" smartwatch patent was first filed for in 2011 and credits Albert J. Golko, Mathias W. Schmidt and Felix Alvarez as its inventors.
post #2 of 100
Last to market, first to patent?
post #3 of 100
Gut instinct: Apple calls it iWatch.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
post #4 of 100
Quote:
As noted, much of the invention pertains to a convertible style smartwatch that incorporates a central electronic device removably secured to an advanced strap strap system. 

 

What is a strap strap system?

 

Does it look like the main body of the watch could be removed, and therefore interchangeable strap designs/colours be offered at some stage?

post #5 of 100

Looks pretty good.

 

I'm waiting for the real action to start - this thread is still in it's infancy.

post #6 of 100
Did Eddy Cue mean this year we'd see the best Apple lineup in 25 years or this fiscal year?
post #7 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by cali View Post

Did Eddy Cue mean this year we'd see the best Apple lineup in 25 years or this fiscal year?

 

His comment is meaningless because every year is Apple's best product lineup ever. If it wasn't that would imply Apple's products are getting worse. 25 years ago we couldn't dream of today's iPhone or iPad or iMac or laptop in terms of real shipping products. His comment makes little to no sense when you examine it. 25 years ago we didn't even have the internet. Suffice it to say he could have said, 'Apple's a product company and behind the scenes we are working on products. Don't count us out yet, we're working on things we cannot discuss today'.

 

Essentially I think he's hinting at iWatch, a thinner Retina MacBook Air, and better iPhones and iPads. Not so sure about what's going on with Apple TV. And at this point it has been established that iTV is being held up on the content front, because the only way people will be willing to buy an amazing AIO TV from Apple is if they get all their shows and they get the TV at a subsidised up-front price: both content related problems.


Edited by Ireland - 7/22/14 at 3:31am
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
post #8 of 100
Excited about Jobs' last project to launch soon.
post #9 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by huglev View Post

Excited about Jobs' last project to launch soon.

 

The iWatch will be very much a Tim Cook product. Jobs' last product will be Apple Campus 2 (God I hate that name).

Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
post #10 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by cali View Post

Did Eddy Cue mean this year we'd see the best Apple lineup in 25 years or this fiscal year?

His comment is meaningless because every year is Apple's best product lineup ever. If it wasn't that would imply Apple's products are getting worse. 25 years ago we couldn't dream of today's iPhone or iPad or iMac or laptop in terms of real shipping products. His comment makes little to no sense when you examine it. 25 years ago we didn't even have the internet. Suffice it to say he could have said, 'Apple's a product company and behind the scenes we are working on products. Don't count us out yet, we're working on things we cannot discuss today'.

Only seven years ago Steve Ballmer (AKA Uncle Fester) couldn't even dream of an iPhone...
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
Reply
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
Reply
post #11 of 100
Next month Samesung release S Time.
post #12 of 100
THIS is nothing like Samsung tried to get a jump on... and Apple patented it, Boy did they patent it! Back in 2011 too...

Tying it into the whole Apple line adds value to everything Apple makes. When iOS 8 ships everything I own by Apple is connected, and with this I get connected into my Apple devices as well....
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
Reply
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
Reply
post #13 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

Only seven years ago Steve Ballmer (AKA Uncle Fester) couldn't even dream of an iPhone...

He can't dream about it now.

Because he has nightmares instead.
If you value privacy you can now set DuckDuckGo as your default search engine in iOS and OS X.
Reply
If you value privacy you can now set DuckDuckGo as your default search engine in iOS and OS X.
Reply
post #14 of 100

Not keen on the in-strap circuitry part.  Samsung rightly got skewered when the first version of their Gear watch had the camera in the strap; being able to replace the strap independently of the watch face is a pretty big deal.

censored

Reply

censored

Reply
post #15 of 100
I don't think this has much to do with the "iWatch" My gut tells me that several years ago when they first came out with the square Nano, they saw people adding wrist straps to them and they started tinkering with the idea of it being a wearable device like a watch. They came up with some ideas and they patented them. But I think the concept and the technology has rapidly developed since then and the patents described here are mostly out of date, except maybe the gestures. I don't think anybody has been talking about that yet.
post #16 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by troehl View Post

I don't think this has much to do with the "iWatch" My gut tells me that several years ago when they first came out with the square Nano, they saw people adding wrist straps to them and they started tinkering with the idea of it being a wearable device like a watch.

 

They saw nothing. Jobs suggested wearing it as a watch at the event.

Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
post #17 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by troehl View Post

But I think the concept and the technology has rapidly developed since then and the patents described here are mostly out of date, except maybe the gestures. I don't think anybody has been talking about that yet.

 

AFAIK there is a watch out there already using gestures. The key to these watches will be sensors. And I personally believe a killer feature would be decent music playback. It's be nice to have a set of Beats and a watch and go for your jog.

Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
post #18 of 100
To me the most interesting thing mentioned here is the piconet. A network of devices that all talk directly to each other without needing to ride wifi is really powerful and not matched by goog or msft as far as I know. It's a personal network of interconnected devices that can speak to the cloud or wider internet through a gateway device in the system (iPhone). This is how the handoff features of Yosemite and airplay features of the next appletv update work. It's really really powerful. I expect there could be lots of different devices that eventually participate in this piconet, including some in the ears, on the chest (pendant?), and even inside the body (why not?). This is the next revolution and it's been in process for years right under our noses.
post #19 of 100
"NFC antennas"!!! I they go the NFC route I'm back into Apple ecosystem and I'll buy this watch and the 5.5 inch iPhone. Otherwise I'll stick to my Android.
post #20 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by NelsonX View Post

"NFC antennas"!!! I they go the NFC route I'm back into Apple ecosystem and I'll buy this watch and the 5.5 inch iPhone. Otherwise I'll stick to my Android.

NFC is dead-end technology, as is Android.  In 2011, Apple was likely still coming to those conclusions.  Although you never know: perhaps the iPhone 6 5.5" will contain the new Adobe Flash NFC Pico-Projecting 3D Haptic Display.

post #21 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

The iWatch will be very much a Tim Cook product. Jobs' last product will be Apple Campus 2 (God I hate that name).
No one will call it that. It will forever be known as the Mothership.
post #22 of 100
‘igh time.
Edited by Benjamin Frost - 7/24/14 at 4:55am
"If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth."
- African proverb
Reply
"If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth."
- African proverb
Reply
post #23 of 100
A square watch. Ugh.
post #24 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by NelsonX View Post

"NFC antennas"!!! I they go the NFC route I'm back into Apple ecosystem and I'll buy this watch and the 5.5 inch iPhone. Otherwise I'll stick to my Android.

Have fun in Android land.

Also, what do you actually use NFC for? Why should I prefer it to Bluetooth 4.0, which is already the de facto standard for connecting with small devices like cycling computers and wearables?
post #25 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

Not keen on the in-strap circuitry part.  Samsung rightly got skewered when the first version of their Gear watch had the camera in the strap; being able to replace the strap independently of the watch face is a pretty big deal.

Didn't people say the same thing about the battery and memory when the first iPhone came out and neither was replaceable/extendable? I know I did - but it's really turned out to be a non-issue, or at best a very minor annoyance.
post #26 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post
 

 

His comment is meaningless because every year is Apple's best product lineup ever. If it wasn't that would imply Apple's products are getting worse.

 

I dont agree at all with youre way of seeing this. He obviously means they will launch more products than usual, in fact its the best line up he have seen, which means there will be major changes and new products, not minor incremental upgrades like we usually get.

post #27 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by sully54 View Post

A square watch. Ugh.

 

The moto watch is very good looking indeed.

post #28 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by herbapou View Post

I dont agree at all with youre way of seeing this. He obviously means they will launch more products than usual, in fact its the best line up he have seen, which means there will be major changes and new products, not minor incremental upgrades like we usually get.

I think the comment was definitely meant to make people think this, but I also agree with Ireland that it is carefully worded so that,in retrospect, you can't call him a liar when all your dreams don't come true.
post #29 of 100
Everything I've seen about this iWatch concept is kludgy. If any design cues in that patent turns up in an actual iWatch, it's doomed.

The more I read about this, the less it looks like an Apple product. There's no reinventing anything here so far. Many people have gotten rid of watches, they aren't going back unless there's a compelling reason. They're not going to carry a phone and wear a watch. And most people who do still wear watches tend to be more interested in the jewelry and status they bring, not whether they can relay a text message from their iPhone.

I don't see using one of these except for sports, and even then it will have to be far less delicate than the iPhone. Waterproof at a minimum. And that's going to cut into the design style for the typical Apple market.

If Apple does this it will sure be interesting to watch. Haha didn't intend that pun but there you go.
post #30 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by tenly View Post


Didn't people say the same thing about the battery and memory when the first iPhone came out and neither was replaceable/extendable? I know I did - but it's really turned out to be a non-issue, or at best a very minor annoyance.

Possibly, but a phone's battery is part of its function, whereas a watch strap is both aesthetic and also dictates its comfort.  I think making the strap non-replaceable would be seen as a significant failing of any such product.

censored

Reply

censored

Reply
post #31 of 100

I didn't carry a phone with me everywhere until the iPhone.  This thing will be as much as "watch" as the iPhone is a "phone."  In other words it'll be a connected app platform that seemlessly fits into your iOS/Mac OS X device ecosystem that makes everything better.

 

My question is, how do grab-bag patents like this one work?  From the article it sounds like there are tons of different characteristics mentioned, many of which are trivial on their own.  So does the patent only protect against someone combining all these things into one device?  Or from achieving some "critical mass" of similarity?  As others have said, there are already products on the market that have subsets of these features.

post #32 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by iaeen View Post


Have fun in Android land.

Also, what do you actually use NFC for? Why should I prefer it to Bluetooth 4.0, which is already the de facto standard for connecting with small devices like cycling computers and wearables?

 

Hmm, whilst I agree with your line of questioning, I would disagree with your counterpoint that BT4.0 is already a de facto standard in such things.  I agree that it may well go that way, and soon, but right now ANT+ is the only interoperable standard in town for such sensors, and that's using ancient 2.4Ghz RF tech.

post #33 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Gut instinct: Apple calls it iWatch.

What if all along the 'iWatch' has just been the next iPod? The only reason to have a dedicated music player these days is for exercising, since your phone is too bulky. And since you're exercising anyway, why not add bio/health sensors to it, and make it strap to your body. But still call it the iPod.

post #34 of 100
(I‘ve Had) The iTime of My Life (Dirty Dancing)
"If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth."
- African proverb
Reply
"If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth."
- African proverb
Reply
post #35 of 100
This definitely makes things more exciting. How timely is it that this gets granted on the day of the earnings call? As someone mentioned this is 3 years in the making so I wouldn't expect this exact representation when they finally do announce. Hopefully it is more advanced with the basis being this patent. Leave everyone else in the dust.
You can't spell appeal without Apple.
Reply
You can't spell appeal without Apple.
Reply
post #36 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post
 

Possibly, but a phone's battery is part of its function, whereas a watch strap is both aesthetic and also dictates its comfort.  I think making the strap non-replaceable would be seen as a significant failing of any such product.

You have a point, but I think you're overstating it.  Yes it's nice to be able to replace a band when it fails, but 95%+ (maybe 99%) of watch buyers never replace the watch band except in that case.  Are there really people who lay down $500+ on a watch and throw away the band it was designed for?  Most people who like watches and want different styles simply buy mutiple watches.  Personally I would hope that these watches have a reasonably lifespan of 5+ years rather than iPhones that are antiquated in 2 or 3 years.  (But that's almost certainly too much to hope for given advances in miniturization, computing power, and networking.)

post #37 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by stuffe View Post

Hmm, whilst I agree with your line of questioning, I would disagree with your counterpoint that BT4.0 is already a de facto standard in such things.  I agree that it may well go that way, and soon, but right now ANT+ is the only interoperable standard in town for such sensors, and that's using ancient 2.4Ghz RF tech.

The market is rapidly moving away from ANT+. The only reason anyone still includes ANT+ antennas is for backwards compatibility. I'm not even aware of anyone who makes an ANT+ dongle for a lightning equipped iPhone.
post #38 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by malax View Post
 

You have a point, but I think you're overstating it.  Yes it's nice to be able to replace a band when it fails, but 95%+ (maybe 99%) of watch buyers never replace the watch band except in that case.  Are there really people who lay down $500+ on a watch and throw away the band it was designed for?  Most people who like watches and want different styles simply buy mutiple watches.  Personally I would hope that these watches have a reasonably lifespan of 5+ years rather than iPhones that are antiquated in 2 or 3 years.  (But that's almost certainly too much to hope for given advances in miniturization, computing power, and networking.)

 

No, but there are people who simply won't buy a watch if it doesn't fit.    The strap is a really important part of the sell for any watch.  I have a lot of watches (well, say 10-15) and I would like to own more, the limiting factor is finding ones that fit, rather than finding ones you like the look and/or features of.  When your choice of smartwatch for an iPhone is going to be restricted to a couple of devices max, you had better make sure that there are a lot of strap options for people to choose from, and that means keeping the tech' out of the straps. Did you pay any close attention to the Gear 2 press photos? None of those watches had a good fit for the ladies (and only the larger wristed males at that), men like me with skinny wrists are not going to enjoy wearing one (nor perhaps will any rear mounted sensors work) if it's just going to spin around on your wrist because the shoulder mounts are too big and bulky like the Gear(s).

post #39 of 100
Quote:
Originally Posted by iaeen View Post


The market is rapidly moving away from ANT+. The only reason anyone still includes ANT+ antennas is for backwards compatibility. I'm not even aware of anyone who makes an ANT+ dongle for a lightning equipped iPhone.

 

For sure it's going that way, as I said.  But it's nowhere near close to actually being there yet was my point, let's not be getting ahead of ourselves, taking it from the accessory side first then other than standard heart rate straps etc there are precious few non ANT+ devices for things like power meters and so fort, and those that are around are 1st gen products.  It's tipping, but its not tipped.  Either way NFC is toast.  Apple (and we) dodged a bullet with that tech...

post #40 of 100
Me thinks Continuity-style features will play a big role in all this.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Discussion
AppleInsider › Forums › General › General Discussion › Apple granted comprehensive 'iTime' smartwatch patent with in-strap circuitry, arm gesture support