Recent weeks have seen speculation intensify around the idea of an Apple iWatch, and today a patent application from the Cupertino company has revealed a device that bears a striking resemblance to what you might expect an Apple smartwatch to look like. The claim described in the document (filed with the US Patent & Trademark Office in August of 2011) sets out a wearable video device built around a flexible display that is intended to be worn around "an appendage." The illustrative imagery helpfully suggests the wrist as the best location for this device, which is further classified as an "accessory" that would work in conjunction with another portable electronic device you might have with you. There would be a bi-directional link between it and presumably your iPhone, with the wrist-bound device being able to sense when it's worn and transmitting input it receives.

More an iPhone accessory than an iWatch, but it may hint at what's to come

Taken as a whole, it sounds more like a smartphone peripheral than a bona fide standalone smartwatch, with the primary intended use being to scan updates and perform basic tasks without having to pull your phone out. It does, however, also demonstrate Apple's exploration of the wrist form factor, which the company already experimented with by selling watch straps for 6th-gen iPod nano. The question now is whether those 2011 passions were doused by the experience with the nano or whether development is still going strong behind the scenes.