The Apple logo hangs in a glass enclosure above the Fifth Avenue Apple Store in New York in this September 20, 2012 file photo. (LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)

The rumor mill is back on iWatch watch, with a report from Reuters that Apple has filed an application to pick up the name in Japan. The report follows one from Apple Insider, which reported that a Russian technology blog had found a similar application for the name in Russia.

Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment on the reports.

But Apple hasn’t exactly been silent about the potential of wearable technology, and chief executive Tim Cook set off a flurry of speculation when he told All Things Digital’s Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher that the wrist is “interesting” and “natural” at a tech conference in May, as opposed to a device worn where people aren’t already accessorizing, such as with glasses.

Cook also said that while he’s seen a lot of gadgets out there that have gone into the wearable market, didn’t think anyone had quite cracked it, another possible dig at Google Glass.

Google’s taken a lot of flak for the design of its Glass headset, from the cyborg-like way it wraps around the head to the discomfort many people have with the idea of having a screen that close to their eye all the time. Glass users, confined at this point to developers and early testers, have generally said they get used to it after a while and find that having the alerts actually help them use their tech less overall because they aren’t constantly fumbling in their pockets for their phones. But Cook did raise a good point: If you don’t already wear glasses on a regular basis, will something like Glass make you want to?

Fitness tools such as the Nike FuelBand or the Jawbone that track users from the wrist have shown that people are willing to cede space that once held watches, bracelets and cause-supporting wristbands to higher-tech gadgets. Then again, wristwatches have been on the decline as more people rely on their smartphones, computers or even radios to give them the time. So,Apple would probably have to put in some killer features to make the device successful.

Plus, more time spent at keyboards can make having something around your wrist less comfortable than it used to be. That’s particularly true if you’re working on a shiny new laptop (such as, oh, I don’t know, a MacBook Air) and want to keep it, and your watch, scratch-free.

Whatever Apple ends up doing with the idea — and it should be noted that patent filings and even trademark registrations do not a product make — the deciding factor will be less about what it is and more about what it does. Cellphones didn’t look all that nice in the early years, but they bridged a gap we were filling with landlines and beepers. Bluetooth headsets, on the other hand, have shown that if the experience isn’t consistently good, then the gadget may not be worth the hassle.

If Google, Apple or some other tech company can make something wearable that’s that transformative, then sooner or later we’ll all jump on board, whether it’s on our wrists, our faces, hanging from our ears or woven into our shirts.

Related stories:

Apple applies for ‘iWatch’ trademark in Japan, suggesting it might be working on wristwatch

Apple ‘iWatch’: Speculation and wish lists

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