Apple patents 'iTime' smartwatch design

Patent filed in 2011 and published this week shows a touchscreen device with a range of sensors that can be controlled by gestures

We’ve been calling it the iWatch for months now, but a newly-published patent from Apple suggests that the company’s long-rumoured smartwatch might actually be called the iTime.

The patent itself was filed in July 2011 but made public yesterday. It shows a series of wrist-worn devices one of which has a tiny touchscreen display that can be popped out of the strap while another offers the same functionality in a single enclosure.

Both designs feature a an all-you-can-eat buffet of sensors, including an accelerometer, a vibration module for feedback and alarms, a GPS module, a heart-rate sensor, NFC, Bluetooth, proximity sensors and more.

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The patent also outlines plans for a control system which use gestures (wearers can swipe their arm horizontally to decline a call or vertically to accept it) and integration into what is called a “piconet” – a network of iOS and OS X devices that lets laptops and computers interact with iPads, iPhones and smartwatches.

This isn’t a new development but Apple's wider ecosystem has certainly been gathering steam of late, especially with the popularity of Apple TV; the growing interest in the 'smart home'; and the forthcoming updates to iOS 8 allowing for things like taking calls and sending texts from your computer.

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The Apple smartwatch itself has been rumoured for years, with the latest earnings report from the company confirming that it needs to release a new product category in order to rejuvenate its flat (but still incredibly profitable) sales.

If we do see a smartwatch this year it's likely it would be unveiled alongside two new iPhone models slated for release this September.

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