iWatch’s novelty emerges as Apple taps sensor and fitness experts

Apple has begun assembling a team of hardware and software engineering, medical sensor, manufacturing, and fitness experts, indicating the company is moving forward with a project to build a fitness-oriented, sensor-laden wearable computer, according to our sources.
Over the past half-decade-or-so, Apple has experimented with and shelved numerous wearable computer designs. Internal prototypes have included designs that could clip onto different pieces of clothing (like an iPod shuffle/nano) in addition to devices that could wrap around a wrist.
Based on comments from Apple CEO Tim Cook and numerous reports, the wrist is the part of the body in which top Apple executives are currently targeting…

Cook, also a Nike Director, is known to wear the fitness-focused Fuel Band. The executive has praised the product. “I think Nike did a really great job with this,” he said at AllThingsD’s D11 conference. “The [wearables] that do more than one thing… aren’t great,” he added. As a company that prides itself on complete, integrated experiences, the smart watch market is one that Apple likely believes it could dominate by way of iPhone and iPad-like innovation.

Apple’s Senior Vice President of Technologies Bob Mansfield, who is said to be key to the development of Apple wearables, has been seen walking around Apple’s campus with a Fuel Band. Mansfield was scheduled to depart Apple in mid-2012, but he returned to work on unspecified “future products” under Cook until formally booting up the new Technologies division last fall. Mansfield, a report from last year said, worked on health appliances during this period.

Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller and his team, sources say, have also been examining new wearable products including the Jawbone Up. Apple Marketing is tasked with setting product direction and capabilities, but it is also in charge of analyzing the current marketplace.
Reports are currently split as to when Apple will debut such a wrist device. Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported that Apple is seeking to debut the future-product late in 2013, but a recent analyst report and a story by the Financial Times profiling Apple’s iWatch hiring efforts have pointed to a late-2014 release.

Beneath the senior executive-level, Apple has assembled a team of both lesser-known and high-profile workers to bring Apple’s “iWatch” to reality. The team works in secrecy in buildings separate from Apple’s main 1 Infinite Loop headquarters.
Reportedly leading the project with Mansfield are Apple VP Kevin Lynch and senior hardware director James Foster. According to our sources, Lynch’s side of the team is focused on overall software vision, and Foster’s group is developing the technologies and mechanics that will shape the features of the device. While Lynch and Foster run two different groups that are part of the bigger project, sources say that the groups are closely knit.
Other Apple teams, such as Dan Riccio’s Hardware Engineering group, Jony Ive’s Industrial Design team, and Craig Federighi’s software developers, are likely collaborating closely to develop the user-facing hardware and software.
Lynch’s team, a previous report claimed, is comprised of former iPod hardware and software designers, and sources say that this is accurate. According to high-ranking, former Adobe colleagues of Lynch, who asked to remain anonymous, the recently appointed Apple executive is “very excited” about his new work.
Foster’s team is comprised of sensor, chip, and battery/power efficiency experts, fields that need to be mastered to produce a light, functional wearable gadget.
This group includes a series of long-time Apple employees that have been molded into a team much like Scott Forstall assembled an “all-star” cast to create the first iPhone operating system.

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