“Apple seeks to introduce the device as soon as this year ... Apple has filed at least 79 patent applications that include the word 'wrist,’ including one for a device with a flexible screen, powered by kinetic energy… The watch business is experiencing a renaissance reminiscent of the cell phone industry before the iPhone.”In terms of the iWatch’s features, it will have the ability to receive incoming calls, view maps and record information through various sensors:
“Features under consideration include letting users make calls, see the identity of incoming callers and check map coordinates, said one of the people who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. It would also house a pedometer for counting steps and sensors for monitoring health-related data, such as heart rates.”Ok, it will have tons of powerful features, but what will it look like? About two weeks ago, the Apple Insider published the patent application from Apple – according to this, it is a "bracelet" accessory with a screen that wraps around the wrist, covering the whole surface. The design is described as a "bi-stable spring", and the watch strap would curve around the wrist, with the two ends overlapping. It will have "touch-sensitive user interface" on the flexible display. The flexible display will be made of multiple flexible parts which would be straightens when the watch is on the shelf, but curved when on the wrist. The patent application gives some ideas about the size of the watch – a width of one inch:
“The most recent widespread use of such a device was the slap bracelet, also called the slap wrap. The slap bracelet consists of layered flexible steel bands sealed within a fabric cover. 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.”It’s also suggested that the gyroscopes and accelerometers would be used to determine the orientation of the watch – whether it is worn on left or right wrist. Another patent says that the iWatch will enable you to view calls, texts, manage playlists, view maps and many other things:
“The bracelet goes far beyond being a wristwatch. Apple states that with a multitouch display, the user ‘can accomplish a number of different tasks including adjusting the order of a current playlist, or reviewing a list of recent phone calls. A response to a current text message can even be managed given a simple virtual keyboard configuration across the face of the flexible display.’… According to Apple, a larger display is also more desirable for map viewing. The arm mounted location makes map viewing a desirable function for such a device, as a traveler or explorer can easily reference the information with a flick of the wrist while exploring.”
One big question is, what about the battery? The patent speaks about two technologies that Apple is developing: solar power and kinetic charging of the battery. This patent talks about the second technology:
“Apple states that the Kinetic energy gathering device noted above in patent figure 5A (# 502) has its advantages. Having the accessory device on an extremity is an ideal location for gathering kinetic energy. The simple motion of a user’s arm or leg allows the accessory device to harness some of that energy for charging battery. The Antenna in patent figure 5A (# 506) is for establishing and maintaining the connection between the bracelet accessory and a portable electronic device such an iPhone. The antenna can be configured to pass data over WiFi, Bluetooth or any other suitable wireless protocol.”Other cool features of the iWatch might include some sort of illumination for the nighttime, plus the the ability to check maps and watch videos. Here’s another image from this patent application:
All these images can be found on PatentlyApple, so if you are interested in this subject, you can dig into it. Many of them probably won’t take shape and come out on the market, but we all know that Apple is working hard to get the best of the best, so all these are just pieces of an ongoing work.It looks like Apple’s iWatch could be timing its entry onto the market at the right time, as the competition from Google could be fierce. Google is designing and developing Google Glass, a computer device worn on the face which has the ability to take photos, record videos, ask for directions, as well as many other things. During the last few years, Apple has managed to make a number of mature and smart innovations in the mobile market, so why not extend it to the watch business? Apple design chief Jony Ive loves watches and owns lots of models himself. The last one he ordered was a sports watch made by Nike Inc., said Wilson, Nike’s creative director at that time. It will be difficult to satisfy all users’ desires, but Apple are the consummate masters of blending fashion with technology. “An Apple watch could triple the size of the watch business in a year or two. They have the opportunity to get everyone that owns a cell phone to go out and buy another watch” said Marshal Cohen, an analyst at NPD Group. This way, Apple could carve out $6 billion market share from an estimated $60 billion overall revenue in the global watch industry in 2013. As Bloomberg highlighted, gross margins are roughly four times bigger than TVs ($1.79 billion in gross profit for TVs, in comparison with $3.6 billion for watches).