Pedometers are nothing new but Apple's method for detecting steps is different. The technology analyzes "peak-to-peak threshold" to determine when a person takes a step. Based on the time elapsed between those thresholds, it can infer when another step was taken, according to the patent application. The technology can also automatically determine whether the pedometer is being worn on the wrist.
You can read the patent here.
Rumors have been suggesting that Apple is at work on health-related products and could be announcing new devices and software this year.
The specific patent does not confirm an Apple smartwatch/healthband, but it could be part of the technology we would expect to see from the company if it was going to launch one.