Apple iWatch Band Patent, A “Slap Bracelet”

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The US Patent and Trademark Office has published new Apple patent application #20130044215 for what appears to be an Apple iWatch that resembles a smartwatch slap bracelet. Does this new evidence support current iWatch rumor frenzy or does it represent an different product entirely? The timing is interesting to say the least … as is the newly disclosed technology.

The Apple patent application, assumably detailing Apple’s rumored iWatch, describes the new technology as a “wearable video device” that contains a flexible display, an integrated circuit for driving the flexible display, a processor, RAM, ROM, a wireless communications antenna, a speaker, a battery, and a data and power connector. And, it appears to be neatly wrapped up in a flexible printed circuit board. Well, I have to say, that sure sounds like the much anticipated Apple iWatch to me.

As I have opined in several articles discussing iWatch rumors, I believe the biggest hurdle to iWatch implementation is not processor or display technology, but rather the power supply … how can Apple stuff an adequately sized battery into such a diminutive device so that constant recharging does not diminish the user experience? Apparently, Apple has come up with an answer. Apple’s patent application claims power to the smartwatch will be delivered via a rechargeable battery possessing three replenishing modes: 1) an array of mini solar panels located on the surface of the band, 2) trickle charging accomplished using a kinetic energy gathering component that is “similar to those found on some wristwatches”, and 3) a standard power connector. Therefore, if you stand outside in the sun swinging your arm in circles, you will not need to plug it in.

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The Apple patent application states that the smartwatch user interface will appear in the form of a touchscreen. Having used the clunky four-button UI of the new Pebble E-Paper Watch, a touchscreen interface will be most welcome. However, on such a small screen, won’t tactile input be severely hampered? Obviously, the interface will not be as sophisticated as on the iPhone, but Apple is the master of the graphical user interface so I am sure they have wrestled this problem into submission. Most likely, the screen will be divided into four touch sensitive quadrants, which would give the iWatch four virtual buttons, equal to the number of Pebble’s four physical.

According to the filing, the smartwatch is designed to communicate with a portable electric device (read iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini) via a two-way wireless link. Although the patent application specifically mentions 5GHz 802.11n wifi, I assume that Bluetooth connectivity will also be implemented into the unit via a dual radio.

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This filing definitely comes as a surprise. Although the Apple iWatch has been highly anticipated and discussed, mainstream smartwatch technology clairvoyants predicted a more substantial device similar to iPod Nanos that have been encased in watchbands by third party accessory vendors. Well, it appears that Apple’s team of Imagineers have something completely different up their sleeves ready to be the next “One More Thing.” The Apple iSlap iWatch … coming soon! Maybe …

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Apple iWatch: [Company Website]

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Jon is the Editor-In-Chief at Wear Guide and writes about wearable technology On Your Arm.  Jon has a M.S. in Computer Science, won several intercollegiate events as a member of the UCLA Cycling Team, and is currently active on the USA Triathlon circuit which provides him the opportunity to field-test wearables under grueling conditions. Jon also writes for our sister publication Send tips and story ideas to Jon at: [email protected]