Electronics giant Apple have caught the attention of both the watch and tech industries with speculation about their newest development; the iWatch. Rumors about a “smart watch” concept heated up this year after Apple filed patents for a touchscreen watch display designed to communicate with an iPhone or other electronic device. The news of Apple’s latest project comes as demand for wearable computing reaches mainstream popularity, as evidenced by early adoption of Google Glasses.
The patent, which was filed with the United States Patent & Trademark Office in August 2011, was revealed late last week. With neither a tourbillon nor a computer at its heart, the iWatch would actually be a portal to your phone’s computing and mobile operating system (clock included). A thin metal strap with a flexible circuit board and a touch-screen display would communicate with the user’s phone, providing a secondary access point while the iPhone stays in the pocket or bag. The iWatch could therefore do everything from turning on and off your music to displaying incoming calls, allowing the user to command responses such as accepting a call.
The patent filing hints that the design of the strap will be a thin “slap-on” band. “At the width of a few inches the display can function to temporarily view and manipulate the screen of the portable device it is in communication with,” Apple reports in the filing. “This might be desirable when the portable electronic device is stored in an inconvenient location such as a cargo pocket, or the bottom of a backpack. A larger display is also more desirable for map viewing… as a traveller or explorer can easily reference the information with a flick of the wrist while exploring.”
Since the filing was revealed last week, speculation has varied widely about when such a product could hit the market. While some sources say it could be as much as three years before the technology is ready, Bloomberg reports that it could be as little as a year. With annual sales in the luxury watch industry pegged at around $60 billion, the iWatch is certain to make a significant impact, whenever it’s revealed.