Apple Granted ‘iTime’ Patent for Wearable Mobile Electronic Device (Plus Wristband)

| Analysis

Apple was granted a patent on a smart watch dubbed "iTime" on Tuesday. The patent describes a wristband with embedded electronics that can be accessed by "a mobile electronic device" [via AppleInsider]. It describes several implementations, including versions where the mobile electronic device can be removed from the wristband. The patent was filed in July 2011 and granted on Tuesday, July 22nd.

The patent includes mentions of biomedical sensors, a GPS module, NFC (a technology Apple hasn't otherwise embraced), Bluetooth, WiFi, and methods of providing haptic feedback. It's not specified which features would be powered by the wristband and which would come from the mobile electronic device.

The use of "iTime" in the patent filing is interesting. For one thing, it appears only once, in an illustration included with the filing. It's not used in the wording of the patent or in the abstract. That image:

Apple Patent Illustration

"iTime" is a different name than "iWatch," the name the media has given Apple's expected foray into wearable computing. Apple has never used "iWatch," but the company did register trademarks for the term in several international markets.

That doesn't necessarily mean that Apple will use it, however, and even using "iTime" in a patent filing means next to nothing. It's intriguing, however, especially to a world starved for hints on Apple's next move.

As such, the timing of this patent is fueling even more speculation. Apple is expected to launch the iWatch/iTime/iWearable/iHealth/iKnowRight? during a media event this fall, possibly during the same even used to introduce the next iPhone.

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This doesn't mean anything of course in the grand scheme of things. Apple has patented loads of things that never see the light of day, but the minute anything Apple-flavored and wrist-related comes up it gets a lot of attention. This is, after all, the rumor du jour now that we've seen our share of iPhone 6 screens.

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Curious that this was filed the Summer after the 6th Gen. iPod nano was released (Sep-2010). And in the Fall of 2011, an update was released that provided up to 16 different watch faces. Makes me wonder if Apple had plans back then to create a wearable device after seeing the interest in the nano 6G used as a “smart” watch, but then changed course and decided to start from scratch and create something much more ambitious? If I remember correctly, everyone was surprised when they dropped that form factor and switched to the new 7th Gen. design. It’s also curious that the release of the 7th Gen. nano and 5th Gen. touch, was last time Apple updated the iPod line. All of that tells me one of two things; 1. iPod is EOL’d or 2. Apple has been working on completely revamping the entire product line.

That 6th Gen. iPod nano was released 4 years ago, can you imagine how far they’ve come since then? Honestly, in that same time frame Apple has gone from the A4 to the A7. We’re talking going from using an off the shelf CPU core from ARM, to a 2nd generation completely custom 64-bit ARMv8 core and in a couple of months we’ll see the A8.

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