The sensors and wearables industry is holding its breath as speculation grows over Apple’s hotly anticipated launch of iWatch alongside iPhone 6 at the confirmed September 9th event.
The smartwatch, dubbed by media as iWatch (no one really knows if Apple actually calls it iWatch), is expected to be unveiled at the event—but the wearable tech device may not be available for shipping until early 2015.
It’s well known that Apple has been working on wearable tech since at least 2011.
In August of that year Apple filed a patent for an accessory device with "bi-stable spring with flexible display" that can be worn on a person’s wrist or other body part.
In the last few months, Apple has filed patents for a weight-tracking device—consisting of a “shoe wear-out sensor, body-bar sensing system, unitless activity assessment, and associated methods”—and another one for iTime, a device for the wrist that is fitted with a GPS and motion sensor system.
It’s not known if iTime is the same product being referred to as the iWatch—but in this wearable, the center section can be separated from the wristband and can operate independently from the band. It can store and play media, display push notifications and respond to gestures.
It’s also believed to have a medication reminder application enabling the user to receive reminders directly on the smartwatch.
While a lot of information floating on the web about iWatch, iTime or iWhatever is rumour and conjecture, a careful look through Apple’s patents offers some insights into possible features the anticipated device may possess.
The wearable tech will beam messages, have simplified apps and let Siri link directly to the wrist—eliminating the inconvenience of retrieving devices from pockets or bags.
In addition, the device will be laden with various fitness tracking and biometric sensors. Coupled with the company’s new HealthKit platform, the smartwatch will act as a centralized location for all digital health tracking.
Along with the usual fitness parameters such as steps taken, calories burned and kilometres walked, the device may also have advanced features to track:
- Heart rate
- Hydration levels
- Blood pressure
- Exposure to UV rays
- Potentially—glucose levels.
A patent filed by Apple with the title “Seamlessly Embedded Heart Rate Monitor” adds fuel to these speculations.
Amidst all this anticipation, there are some Apple watchers who believe that Apple may release a wearable tech device, but it may not exactly be the iWatch.
They speculate that Apple, being a latecomer to the standalone fitness tracker party, may release a fitness band—but with more functionality and cellular connectivity minus the groundbreaking features mentioned above.
Or it may release a new version of the 2010 iPod Nano with updated firmware and fitness tracking integration.
In addition, with Apple buying Beats for $3 billion and hiring Burberry’s CEO to head its retail operations, some wonder if Apple may surprise us all by making a big bang entry into the “smart jewelry” market.
While these rumors won’t die until September 9th, what is certain is that Apple is betting big on wearable tech.
There’s no question that—sooner or later—it’ll come up with exceptional products that will occupy a big space in this market.
As they’ve done all along, Apple will create another wave of social change by producing the next “must-have” for their loyal followers—only this time, it’ll be something for them to put on.