Apple has been granted a patent detailing a ‘wrist-worn electronic device and methods therefor’. The company has long been rumored to be working on an iWatch for release as early as this year, making the filing of particular interest.
The patent discloses embodiments of electronic wristwatches including one in which an electronic wristband provides additional functionality to a small touch screen device such as an iPod nano.
As an electronic wristband to be worn on a wrist of a user, another embodiment of the invention can, for example, include at least a central portion and at least one band portion. The central portion can include a touch screen display, control circuitry and a battery. The touch screen display can be configured to present visual information to the user and to receive user input from the user. The control circuitry can be configured to control operation of the electronic watchband, and the battery can be configured to provide power to the electronic wristband. The at least one band portion can be coupled to the central portion and suitable to assist with securing the electronic wristband to the wrist of the user. The at least one band portion can include at least one electrical component provided internal to the at least one band portion and operatively connected to the control circuitry.
The coupled touch screen display (iPod nano) and electronic wristband is dubbed ‘iTime’ as can be seen in the diagram below. The band could add Bluetooth, near-field, or GPS antennas; as well as, an accelerometer and other sensors.
Apple outlines how the band could be connected to mobile phone and used to receive notifications, answer or decline calls, and more.
Typically, a user would be carrying or wearing the electronic wristband 402 and the mobile phone 404. The notification request can be received (via wire or wirelessly) at the electronic wristband 402 and can cause the electronic wristband 402 to notify the user. In general, the notification request can be considered a push notification from another electronic device to the electronic wristband 402. As one example, the notification request can cause the electronic wristband 402 to activate haptic device, an audio device and/or a display device of the electronic wristband 402 to signal the user of the notification. Once the user is notified (or altered), the user can in some cases view additional information pertaining to the notification via the display device or hear additional information pertaining to the notification via the audio device (e.g., a speaker). In some cases, the user can also further interact with the electronic wristband 402 to respond to the notification. For example, if the notification alerts the user of an incoming phone call at the mobile phone 404, through interaction with the electronic wristband 402, the user can accept or decline the incoming call. Hence, advantageously, the user can use the electronic wristband 402 as a remote Input/Output (I/O) interface for the mobile phone 404.
The patent also notes that apps running on the wristwatch could alert users to nearby wristbands. The alert could pertain to calendar alerts, stock alerts, weather alerts, etc.
Further, the electronic wristband can also alert a user if its linked electronic device goes out of range.
Finally, Apple says that gestures could be used to provide user input. For example, when a notification request is received the electronic wristband can monitor one or more sensors to detect a user gesture with the user’s arm or wrist. The gesture can correspond to specific movements of a user’s wrist or arm can vary with implementation. “For example, the gesture might be a horizontal movement for one user input option (e.g., decline incoming call), and might be a vertical movement for another user input option (e.g., accept incoming call). For example, the gesture might be a single shake (or bounce, tap, etc.) of the user’s wrist for one user input option (e.g., accept incoming call), and might be a pair of shakes (or bounces, taps, etc.) for another user input option (e.g., decline incoming call). “