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Apple Secures Broad Smartwatch Patent

Apple, expected to launch an “iWatch” later this year, landed a sweeping patent covering a “wrist-worn electronic device.”

The tech giant on Tuesday was granted U.S. Patent No. 8,787,006, covering an electronic wristwatch that could work in conjunction with other portable devices or on its own.

The device portion of the electronic wristband — which Apple likened to the iPod nano in form factor — as described in the patent includes a touchscreen display that can be “configured to present visual information to the user and to receive user input from the user.” The patent among other things covers methods for determining user input based on arm or wrist gestures; the ability to “provide a physical alert” to a user’s wrist via a haptic device; and a “personal wireless environment” to communicate with nearby computers or smartphones.

In describing the input mechanism, the patent cites the following examples: “The gesture might be a single shake (or bounce, tap, etc.) of the user’s wrist for one user input option (e.g., accept incoming call), and might be a pair of shakes (or bounces, taps, etc.) for another user input option (e.g., decline incoming call).”

SEE ALSO: Apple Smartwatch Set for Fall Launch: Report

However, it’s worth noting that information included in patent applications does not necessarily imply that any of the features described will actually find their way into commercial products.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company filed for the patent Jan. 31, 2011. Tech news site AppleInsider reported news of the patent grant earlier. Apple refers to the device as “iTime” in one of the illustrations in the patent.

Apple will launch a wearable device to monitor health data in October, with plans to manufacture up to 5 million smartwatches per month, Japanese newspaper Nikkei reported last month.

In entering the smartwatch market, Apple would face a range of offerings already available. But having said that, the iPhone was not the first smartphone when it was introduced in 2007.

Vendors that sell smartwatches include Sony, Samsung, LG and Pebble.

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