The patent application talks of a way to improve the function of current pedometers, by improving accuracy - the new technology would be able to determine where a user had the device on their body and adjusting on the fly.
Apple talks of “automatic detection” - for example, when the device is on your arm or wrist. when you start to run, the device would recognize that and change its reading input, meaning you get fewer false readings from arm movement.
There’s no word yet on the actual device’s market entrance. This pedometer could be a standalone device for Apple, no doubt linked to a consumer’s other iOS devices in some way, but it’s possible that this feature could be integrated into Apple’s iWatch hardware.
I’m putting more stock in the “part of the iWatch” theory -- why should Apple make a second peripheral for a pedometer, when they could just integrate the feature into an existing plan? There’s always the argument of “Well they could sell two devices instead of one,” and that’s true. But then they’d also have to build two devices.