Apple's much-rumored iWatch might be able to serve as your own virtual weightlifting coach.
A granted patent dubbed "Shoe wear-out sensor, body-bar sensing system, unitless activity assessment and associated methods" as published on Tuesday by the US Patent and Trademark Office describes a sensor that attaches to a weighlifting body bar in order to monitor and record your capabilities and progess.
The original patent filing advanced the notion of a "shoe wear-out sensor," meaning it would be incorporated into your sneakers or other footware. But in revising the filing over time, Apple steered more in the direction of a sensor that fits on the body bar and transmits the results to a mobile device, such as a smartwatch as outlined below:
"In one embodiment, display 512 (shown in dotted outline) is part of a watch (or a MP3 player or a cell phone) that may be seen when worn or used by the user when performing exercises; and measurements determined by processor 504 are transmitted to the watch (or to the MP3 player or cell phone) for display upon display 512."
An Apple iWatch is still in the rumor stage, but more clues point to such a device. At last week's Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple unveiled an upcoming toolkit and hub app for health and fitness data called Health. Though initially geared to support third-party devices, Health could easily integrate with an iWatch. Samsung and other tech players are already selling their own smartwatches, though these products have yet to truly take off with consumers. But a device that successfully combines a smartwatch and health monitor -- and offers a bit of the Apple polish -- could easily shake up the market.
The sensor described in Apple's patent would be small and portable, so it could easily be moved from one piece of exercise equipment to another. Users would then be able to track the results of their workout on the watch or other mobile device.
If Apple is indeed cooking up an iWatch for this year, we should see it unveiled in September or October at the same time as the usual iPhone and iPad announcements.