Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Oh, patents! iTime

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Apple’s “iTime” patent made headlines on July 22, 2014, with a couple of surprises. The first is that this is an application that was filed already way back in 2012 as US 20120194976 A1, under the same title as the Patent awarded to Apple (but before it was assigned to Apple Inc.) so one wonders why there is so much delayed hype concerning the disclosures. And, the second surprise is that, oddly, there is very little comment on the watch’s primary function, which is to give you the time! Indeed, it seems that all the excitement generated by the watches’ connectivity, and additional circuitry board afforded by the strap, serves to completely obscure the watches’ usual and primary function, which would be keeping time!.  So, perhaps that this patent would be better described as the Apple iStrap patent, which converts a time keeping device into a connected and connectable device.

 Well… maybe that’s just the point! No one wants just the time anymore! And if you did, you could get it the old fashioned way, without Apple’s assistance!

 Maybe this is also the reason why you cannot find this patent anywhere when you search for “watch”!  Watch is already an outdated “keyword”, a descriptor that no longer corresponds to, or adequately describes, such a multi-functional device as the one disclosed. Apple’s patent, US8787006, is titled:  Wrist-worn electronic device and methods therefor.  And because the drawings indicate “iTime” on the display, even the term “iWatch” was ditched for this wrist-worn electronic device.

 There are two embodiments of the invention. In the first embodiment, the “iTime” central piece is built into the wristband, which serves as a circuitry board to augment its functionality and wireless connectivity to other devices.  In the second embodiment, the “iTime” central piece can be removed (like a mini iPod) from the wristband serving to augment its functionality, and used as an independent wireless device. So, one way or another, the time piece includes wireless circuitry to enable the multiplication of functions and the device’s wireless connectivity.

 This means, for example, that the electronic wrist device can be used as a portable media storage device [0021]. The electronic wrist device can also contain an antenna for GPS functions [0026], and it can be designed as a haptic device with touchscreen functions [0027-27]. The electronic wrist device could also be designed as an I/O device for an Iphone so that it could alert users with incoming call messages [0037]. Similarly the electronic wrist device could also display incoming messages from social media [0038].

 And of course no electronic device comes without time related functions, and the iTime, in this respect, is no exception…as it discloses all the possibilities of calendar functions and personal assistance, or stock alerts and weather notifications [0041]. The electronic wrist device also discloses the possibility of gesture-driven commands using sensors to control the wrist device [0055], for example declining an incoming call with a horizontal wrist movement or accepting it with a vertical wrist movement; or declining and accepting calls with various wrist shakes, a single shake for accepting, two shakes for declining. Plus  many more such functions, part mobile device, part computer, that could be designed, or added which would all fall within the scope of the electronic wrist device, integrated as a single piece of wearable hardware, or as two interconnected pieces of wearable hardware .

 Indeed, there is plenty to be excited about with this multi-function wearable wrist device that morphs in and out of traditional watch functions. And it looks like the future may hold yet another amazing Apple product, and competition in the emerging wearable computer market!  Wouldn’t you like to wear iTime?
The abstract for US8787006/ US 20120194976 A1 titled Wrist-worn electronic device and methods therefor is included below as well as one of the figure drawings. And we shall see what the actual product looks like, when (and if) it is in the Apple production line agenda. For my part I wouldn’t mind some details about the time-keeping function, and how accurate to the billionth of a second it might be, using a satellite that defies the curvature of space. You know… something really special about measuring time… since after all this is supposed to be worn as a “watch”, even if it is so much more.

Embodiments of electronic wristwatches are disclosed. According to one embodiment, an electronic wristband can provide additional electrical circuitry or devices that can be made available for use as or with an electronic device. In one embodiment, the electronic device can be a mobile electronic device that can be removably coupled to the electronic wristband which provides the additional circuitry or devices. Advantageously, the electronic device can utilize the additional electrical circuitry or devices provided within the electronic wristband to augment the capabilities of the electronic device. In another embodiment, the electronic device can be integrally formed with the electronic wristband which provides the additional circuitry or devices. Abstract US8787006/ US 20120194976 A1

 Goldman, D. (2014) Is this Apple’s new iWatch ? CNNMoney, July 22, 2014
Etherington, D. (2014) Apple gets and extensive iWatch patent., July 22, 2014.
La, L (2014) Apple iWatch: Rounding up every possible rumor surrounding Apple’s supposed smartwatch. CNET, July 18, 2014

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