In the near future, we might well be talking about 2013 as the year when wearable technology went mainstream. With Google Glass set to be shipped to developers this year, Apple has stepped up efforts to develop a wearable smartphone in the form of a watch.
Apple’s iWatch has been a rumoured device for nearly two years now. This latest revelation comes from The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal (paywall), both of which report speaking with Apple insiders.
Apple first experimented with a watch-like iOS device with the iPod nano
Sources familiar with the company's plans told The New York Times that the iWatch will be made from curved glass and that currently the device is still in an early stage of development. The sources said that the company is currently experimenting with different form factors for wearable technology, but did not reveal what the design will be like nor gave any inkling about the device’s availability. A smartphone-watch combo could be used to make mobile payments, make and receive calls, see texts and emails as well as be the music controller. The iWatch will specifically operate on the iOS platform, which is used in Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
According to the WSJ, “The company has discussed such a device with its major manufacturing partner Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (better known as Foxconn), one of these people said, as part of explorations of potentially large product categories beyond the smartphone and tablet.”
The Times quotes a Forrester analyst, Sarah Rotman Epps, who has studied the field of wearable tech for some time. “Apple’s certainly made a lot of hiring in that area. Apple is already in the wearable space through its ecosystem partners that make accessories that connect to the iPhone. This makes Apple potentially the biggest player of the wearables market in a sort of invisible way.”
The report further states that Apple CEO Tim Cook is a fan of wearable tech and regularly uses the Nike FuelBand wrist band, which syncs with the iPhone to keep a log of your daily exercise.
Late last year, rumours started intensifying about the possible iWatch. Reports suggested that the watch connects to Apple devices via Bluetooth. The company was reported to have partnered with Intel for a smart watch that had a 1.5-inch PMOLED display made by RiTDisplay with ITO-coated glass. However, the NYT report says that the iWatch will probably feature Corning’s Willow Glass, that can be bent but not broken. The report quotes Corning’s chief technology officer Pete Bocko: “You can certainly make it (Willow Glass) wrap around a cylindrical object and that could be someone’s wrist. Right now, if I tried to make something that looked like a watch, that could be done using this flexible glass.”
When word first got out about a wearable device being developed at Cupertino, it was described as taking the concept of an iPod Nano further. It was also suggested that users would be able to communicate with the device using Siri.
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