Apple’s recent filing to trademark the name “iWatch” in both Russia and Japan suggests that rumors of an upcoming wearable computer from Apple may be true. A wrist-worn computer would offer convenience and “cool factor” unlike anything previously released by Apple. Apple has been criticized for a lack of innovation since the death of Steve Jobs, and a wearable computing device could be just what they need to get back in the game, and perhaps give Google Glass some competition.
According to the diagrams included in Apple’s iWatch patent application, the following features will be considered:
- “Slap bracelet” style
- 2-way communication with other devices
- Flexible multi-touch display covering the top of bracelet
- Use of solar and kinetic energy
However, it is important to note that the product’s design is not set in stone. The Japanese blog Macotakara points out a Taiwanese article claiming that Apple is currently testing 1.5″ displays, which would not fit over the entire exposed side of a bracelet.
Whatever type of display Apple chooses, it had better be durable. Human hands are used for countless actions in day to day life, and the “iWatch” would inevitably be bumped and banged around during daily wear. Waterproofing would also prove invaluable, so the device could be worn safely in the rain and snow.
This device would also make good use of the iCloud, allowing the user to keep contacts and apps stored in their iPhone.
It appears that either a wireless headset or gratuitous use of speakerphone would be necessary to use the “iWatch” for calls. The same goes for music: having a cord extend from a pocket or an arm holster isn’t terribly inconvenient, but extending from the wrist? That would just get in the way.
Apps Made More Useful
Many iPhone apps would be made even more convenient by a wrist-worn computer. Just imagine having all of your maps, concert tickets, or even coupons already out on your wrist when you need them!
Fitness apps could be used more easily by including them on a computer that they can wear while working out. The technology could also be utilized to display a pattern of flashing colors, increasing a biker or jogger’s visibility in the dark.
One app I’m really hoping to see with this is Skype, or a similar video chat app. Nearly everyone has seen it in the movies, and there is really no other way to say this: video chat on a watch would be really, really cool. Unfortunately, the diagrams above show no sign of a camera, but nothing is set in stone yet. There is still hope!
Worth the buy?
Yes… if it’s done well. As I said above, the issue of fragility would have to be addressed at some point. It would also depend on whether a wireless headset is included. Having to buy another expensive gadget to use this one would be inconvenient.
This brings me to another point: pricing. A computer small and durable enough to be worn on the wrist is going to be expensive, without a doubt.
In any case, the “iWatch” has worlds of potential and is bound to revolutionize portable computing.