Wearable Tech World Feature Article
November 07, 2013

New Apple Patent Application Emerges - It is All a Wearable Tech Vision

We've been working on an article that will take a look at what Apple is most likely to do when it finally delivers either its first piece of real wearable technology or, as may prove to be likely, it delivers not only wearable tech but also a grander scheme for how wearable tech will work within Apple's larger vision of the future. Trust us - it won't simply be about yet another smartwatch that mimics what your smartphone is up to.

We're not quite ready to post that article yet but this morning to came to light (courtesy of Apple Insider) that the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) has just published an Apple patent application - with today's date on it - for a hugely interesting capability involving low power Bluetooth as a core wireless network sharing mechanism. It is very interesting to us for the very simple reason that we believe Bluetooth will play a central role in what Apple has up its sleeve for the larger wearable tech vision we noted above. It is well worth taking some time this morning to dig a bit deeper into this and scope out what the patent application's technology is about.

The patent application itself was filed on March 13, 2013, and makes mention of an earlier filing related to it dating back to March 2012. Let's start with the actual abstract from the patent application itself:

"A device accesses a remote network using short-range connectability with another device providing shared access to the remote network."

In this particular case a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, so rather than elaborate let's take a look at one of the images provided in the patent application, shown below.

Keeping the above diagram in mind, here is a "detailed description" (labeled [0016] in the patent application itself) of how a communications process as shown above might operate:

"Radio-enabled devices provide an alternate way to access the network when users are on the go, but obviously not all devices are equipped with radios. Using short-range connectability, devices without radios can be paired with radio-enabled devices to automatically establish a brief intermittent connection with the network that will allow the device to perform such tasks as establishing network presence for receiving push notifications and other types of messages or updates. In this manner, users can leverage their mobile radio communication devices, such as their cell phones, to provide network access to their other devices without having to manually enable such connections. In turn, the other devices can benefit from the network access while remaining in low-power mode during a short-range connection that uses a low-power enabled connection."

The patent has 20 claims associated with it. We won't go through each of these, but taken together it all essentially describes how a close range, low-powered connection-based network can operate within relatively short periods of time. For example, a low powered device (hmm, a smartwatch perhaps or even a different wearable such as a ring) announces its presence, which in turn sets off various automatic connections (the diagram shows a laptop, but there is no reason it can't be a smart TV, or a kitchen appliance, or a smart thermostat, or…).

Information is transferred and some likely action takes place (how about a personal thermostat setting within a particular room?). Information can also be delivered back to the wearable device. Once the actions and information transfers are completed, the network connections are shut down and the devices return to their low power states. Note the Internet cloud in the upper left hand corner of the diagram - this is an Apple patent so surely that can be Apple's iCloud up there.

We'll leave it at this. The patent itself is full of the usual patent language - so be prepared to have to parse things a few times in most cases. Our example above, in contrast, is relatively clear in what it says. The inventors credited on the report are Daniel Borges, Michael Jason Giles and Michael Larson.

All in all it’s a very interesting bit of wireless connectivity technology Apple has put out there. We're absolutely sure it ties into Apple's larger scale wearable technology vision.

Edited by Tony Rizzo

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