This morning the folks over at AppleInsider discovered that Apple was granted a patent today for the iTime, which can only be described as a device-connected smartwatch that offers advanced functionality like arm and wrist gestures, as well as advanced proximity sensing, through a sensor-laden smart strap.
But unlike the all-in-one smartwatch devices already revealed by Samsung and LG, the iTime will actually feature two main components: the aforementioned smart strap, which can apparently be swapped out to change functionality, and a small touchscreen media player reminiscent of the sixth-generation iPod Nano, which is mentioned by name in the patent. Although, you can certainly expect the display technology used on the iTime to be vastly superior to the old Nano.
The strap itself would introduce more advanced features like GPS, haptic feedback, arm and wrist gesture sensing, and even wireless communications. But it's not clear if the user needs to swap between multiple straps depending on the functionality they're after.
The patent also outlines a personal wireless network, as Apple describes it, allowing the iTime to connect and share data with an iPhone, iPad, or computer, including notifications and alerts. Functionally it sounds similar to what already exists in modern smartwatches, but how exactly a user will interact with the iTime remains to be seen, as well as how much of a connected smartphone's capabilities it will give remote access to.
The hardware specifics in the patent seem to describe how the smartwatch will function—including using the watch as a "wrist phone," which please no— but it's important to note that in the past Apple has trademarked alternate names for its products to help maintain secrecy before the official launch. So whether or not we'll all be strapping the iTime to our wrists come the fall remains to be seen. [USPTO via AppleInsider]