Rumours of an iWatch have been hot topic in recent weeks, so the publication of an Apple patent application detailing a wearable computer that wraps around the wrist seems to have arrived right on time.
On Thursday, the US Patent & Trademark Office published Apple's patent application that covers a bracelet with a multitouch display that the consumer can use to “accomplish a number of different tasks including adjusting the order of a current playlist, or reviewing a list of recent phone calls,” states Apple. “A response to a current text message can even be managed given a simple virtual keyboard configuration across the face of the flexible display.”
The patent, which was filed in August 2011, is titled “Bi-stable spring with flexible display,” with the bi-stable spring being used to eliminate the need for clips or buckles to fasten around the wrist, by instead acting like the slap bracelet. “The slap bracelet consists of layered flexible steel bands sealed within a fabric cover,” explains Apple. “Typical slap bracelets are roughly one inch in width by nine inches in length. In a first equilibrium position they can be flat. The second equilibrium is typically reached by slapping the flat embodiment across the wrist, at which point the bracelet curls around the wrist and stays relatively secure in a roughly circular position.”
A flexible display and other electrical components would be embedded into the slap bracelet to become a wearable computer, which has been dubbed 'iWatch' by the media. The device could switch from a convex shape to concave depending on whether it is being worn in order to protect switches and other elements from being easily damaged.
Apple's proposed iWatch will have the ability to switch off unused portions of the screen if hidden underneath the snap bracelet while being worn by a smaller user, making it a 'one size fits all' device. When being worn, the iWatch appears to be an uninterrupted screen that would use sensors to ensure that the information being displayed is orientated towards the user.
The iWatch can communicate with other devices such as an iPhone or iPad wirelessly through Bluetooth or WiFi, but could have wired connectors for charging and syncing.
Apple says that the battery could be divided into portions that are placed in disparate locations in the iWatch, or alternatively, it could be a replaceable battery that is accessible by the user. Apple even suggests that the iWatch could be powered by a solar panel that is spread across the surface of the device to extend its battery life, or a kinetic source that generates power from being worn on the wrist, reports Patently Apple.
Apple notes that, in addition to managing texts and phone calls, and giving access to music playlists, the iWatch could be used for map viewing.
While wearing the iWatch, users could be alerted to notifications by a blinking blue bordered edge light, and the device could display bright patterns on its screen for use while riding a bike at night time to make the user more visible.
This latest patent application certainly proves that Apple is considering wearable technology, but it remains to be seen when such device will emerge. Until then, you can check out our iWatch release date, rumours and leaked images round up here.
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