The Apple iWatch (or whatever it’s going to be called) may well be a wristband with sensors and a radio in it, and an insertable (and presumably replaceable) display module that gets snapped in to be the device’s face. That’s what you’d gather from US Patent 8,787,006, which AppleInsider spotted today.
The specific claims are interesting. Several of them relate directly to the idea of a replaceable module and the technique of connecting the wrist band to power, and the module to the sensors and the radios. Others refer to the snap-in module as being a touch-screen media player, having a battery, and including a haptic device and/or accelerometer.
Four variations are illustrated in the patent, one of them labeled “iTime.” Three of them use the snap-in module design, which carries a strong resemblance to putting an iPod nano on your wrist. The fourth, however, is a single piece device with curved glass. (That’s the one we’re showing in the illustration.) You can see the hinges for the strap, and where the sensors could rest against your skin. In this version, there’s a headphone jack and a GPS radio. There are repeated references to near-field radios in addition to Bluetooth; we’re not clear if that means we should expect to see a long-awaited NFC chip and payment system.
Note, though: the wristband would have to be plastic in all these designs; if there’s electronics in the band, it’s hard to see how the band could be made of metal or fabric — or how it could be replaceable for design purposes.