Smoke and mirrors reports of smartwatch devices have been all over the tech press in recent months.
But now we know a little bit more about the plans of one of those firms, thanks to newly unearthed patent and trademark filings - Samsung has applied for US and South Korean trademarks for a watch that connects to the internet.
An application to the US Patent and Trademark Office revealed plans for the Galaxy Gear, described by Samsung as a wearable digital electronic device in the form of a wristwatch, wrist band or bangle.
This followed an application for a Samsung Gear trademark in South Korea, and the registration of design patents for a wristwatch with a flexible display that curves around the wrist.
The news has been racking up numerous headlines, but why all the fuss?
It's speculated that the 'smartwatch' could well be the next big thing in consumer tech. Analyst Canalys says more than five million smartwatches will ship in 2014, up from the 330,000 that shipped in 2012.
"Smartwatches will be the most important new product category since iPad"
Smart watches are worn on the wrist like a regular timepiece, but they connect to the web and notify you of updates such as phone calls and social media without you having to dig out your mobile from your bag.
But what impact will smartwatches have on our lives? One analyst
at Canalys suggests it will be pretty significant.
"Smartwatches will be the most important new product category in consumer electronics since the iPad defined the market for tablets," Chris Jones said.
"Software platforms tied to smartwatches will also be a tremendous opportunity for developers to write apps in categories such as health and wellness or sports and fitness."
Samsung's drawings from the design patent in South Korea approved in May show a device with a flexible screen that wraps around the wrist, with other parts made of metal and synthetic materials.
The designs suggest it will feature a small panel with keys similar in design to those on its Galaxy S smartphone. The drawings also showed 'back' and 'home' buttons at the bottom of the screen.
But what will Samsung's smartwatch actually do?
The US trademark application said the device will be "capable of
providing access to the internet, for sending and receiving phone
calls, electronic mails and messages" as well as "keeping track of
or managing personal information".
These features chime with a US survey which asked people what they wanted from a smartwatch device.
Market research firm IDC polled 1,513 people and found 14% were interested in being able to see who is calling their phone by merely glancing at their wrist.
Next generation wearable tech
When Samsung's smartwatch appears it will enter a market that already includes Sony's Smartwatch 2, with more firms likely to soon enter the fray.
However, Sony's SmartWatch 2 doesn't run on its own operating sytem. Instead it syncs with any Android phone and shows notifications on its screen. Meanwhile, Apple applied for a trademark in Japan for the iWatch in June, which insiders have suggested could potentially be a smartwatch which uses a version of Apple's iOS operating system.
Google has also lodged patent documents, while Microsoft has confirmed it is working on a watch design.
For now all eyes are on Samsung, and its press conference at the IFA Berlin consumer tech show in Berlin of September 4.
What do you think - would you wear a Smartwatch? Let us know via the comments section below...
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