Tech Biz

Apple Files “iWatch” Trademark in Japan

Will Apple join the smartwatch craze? Other tech giants appear to be on board.

While Apple made no mention of an iWatch at last month’s Worldwide Developers Conference in California, news from the other side of the Pacific indicated that the wearable gadget may be on the way. Bloomberg reported that the Japan Patent Office received a trademark request for “iWatch” from the Cupertino-based tech goliath.

According to Bloomberg, “Apple has a team of about 100 product designers working on a wristwatch-like device that may perform some of the tasks now handled by the iPhone and iPad.” Samsung, Apple’s biggest hardware competitor, and Google, the company behind the rival Android operation system, are also developing their own smartwatches.

According to the early June filing, Apple is seeking to “protect the name for a product that is categorized as a handheld computer or watch device.” The records became public last week. CNET claims that the alleged 100 Apple professionals working on the smartwatch are from the company’s marketing, software, and hardware divisions. Each of the iWatch team members had previously worked on the iPhone and iPad.

The iWatch is rumored to run the iOS mobile operating system, connect to the iPhone or iPad via BlueTooth, and utilize a 1.5-inch AMOLED touchscreen display. It will likely be able to “perform many of the tasks currently dominated by the iPhone and iPad – which could include the ability to make phone calls, identify incoming callers and check map routes,” said TheNextWeb. “It was also said to include a pedometer for counting steps and a number of sensors for tracking other health-related data.”

The futuristic iWatch could also include a kinetic energy charger and a virtual keyboard. In a throwback to the 1990s, Engadget claimed that the iWatch could feature a “slap bracelet”-like strap, based on a patent application that Apple filed last February. “Maybe it's time to buy up some snap bracelets on eBay: they might just be making a comeback,” the site joked.

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The patent application also suggested than an “end-detection sensor” could be embedded in the iWatch, which would allow it to be configured individually to each user. The inclusion of biometrics would not only allow health data to be collected, but it would also promote security. The watch could, in theory, deactivate itself when being worn by someone other than the user it is set up for.

Sony already released its own Android-powered smartwatch (called “SmartWatch” – with version 2.0 set for a September release), and Microsoft is said to be making its own version as well. The smartwatch craze was initiated by Pebble, a Kickstarted device that captured more than $10 million from the crowd-funding site.