Smart watches are nothing new, but word on the street is that Apple is about to break into the smart watch market with a time-piece packing a curved glass display. The New York Times was first to report on the rumor, citing people familiar with the matter that say Apple's Cupertino HQ is currently testing wristwatch-like devices running iOS.
Other than that, details on the device are thin on the ground. It sounds like Apple has yet to nail down a final design, so it's probably pretty early in the development stages. As a result, we're left to speculate on just what this device might do. As NYT points out, there's the possibility of Siri integration, Apple Maps, and mobile payments, but there's no information to suggest Apple has definite plans to include any of the aforementioned features in this rumored watch.
In March of 2010, Apple hired Richard DeVaul, who has a background in wearable technologies and a PhD in Media Arts & Sciences from MIT. At MIT, he worked on new human-computer interaction techniques for wearable, mobile, and portable applications. His Ph.D. dissertation was on a product called "The Memory Glasses," a heads-up display focused on combating the problems associated with wearable memory support technology. Could DeVaul be working on Apple's new generation of wearable technology and might that include a wristwatch? Google has been planning its own wearable tech in the form of Project Glass for quite a while now. It makes sense that Apple would want to develop a product to compete with Google's smart glasses.
The idea of a smart watch is not new and we saw a few at CES in Las Vegas this past January. Many models act as a caller display for the user's phone and connect wirelessly via Bluetooth. The watch will then show text messages, incoming calls, and other alerts, allowing you to 'check your phone' without having to take it out of your pocket or bag.