Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

What Apple's iWatch could be

July 7, 2013: 7:08 AM ET

Revisiting Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini blue-sky speculation.

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Dick Tracy's primeval smartwatch.

FORTUNE -- Now that Apple (AAPL) has been spotted securing trademarks for "iWatch" around the world, the device that was once viewed as purely speculative is now assumed far and wide to be Tim Cook and Jony Ive's next big thing.

And what exactly would an Apple wrist-computer do?

For some down-to-earth speculation we recommend the last 25 minutes of Horace Dediu's Tuesday podcast (The Critical Path 91: Apple's Douglss MacArthur).

For blue-sky thinking, nobody has yet matched the ideas that poured forth last February from Bruce "Tog" Tognazzini, a human-computer interaction specialist who was one of Steve Jobs' early hires and spent 14 years at Apple, from 1978 to 1992.

His Feb. 9 Ask Tog blog post is still available, with added commentary and chapter headings that we've copied below for readers who prefer their science fiction executive summary-style.

The Apple iWatch

Overcoming smartwatch drawbacks

  • Wireless charging, so you never remove the watch from your arm
  • Smooth Apple design with no clunk-factor
  • Siri and your iPhone take the place of buttons and menus on your iWatch

The iWatch as facilitator/coordinator

The Killer Applications

  • Your iWatch vouches for you, so you'll never have to type another passcode or password again.
  • Walk away from your iPhone and your iWatch will warn you.
  • Your NFC chip for making payments is in your watch, instead of in an easily-grabbed $800 phone. Just wave your hand over the sensor and you're good to go.

Other Cool Capabilities

  • When your iPhone rings, your watch says who's calling, and you can handle your response by touching the watch.
  • Sensors enable the watch to monitor you in sickness and in health, tracking calories burned, miles walked, steps climbed, restlessness of sleep, even advent of tremor and other early warnings of serious health conditions.
  • Your music may be on your iPhone or iPod, the sound may come from your Bluetooth headset, but your controller is on your wrist with the iWatch.

The Apps

  • Unexpected apps will afford unexpected capabilities, like KidCode
  • Expected apps like using the watch to pause, mute, or change the channel on your TV or alter your room temperature
  • Apple Maps fix. Crowdsourced pressure data from the watch could enable Apple to fix the 3D view in its Maps app.
  • "What's that thing?" Point your finger to a distant object, and Siri will tell you what it is.

Postscript

The Forum

  • Two-way conversation between readers and myself with a surprising number of good ideas for both features and applications.
Join the Conversation
About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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