Tim Cook said that Apple sees the wearable devices market as an area of “profound” interest, and the iWatch is reported to be Apple’s first product in this new category of devices. According to rumors and speculations, the iWatch will be a smartwatch with a focus on health and fitness, thanks to an array of on-board sensors. Read on to learn more about the iWatch.
While we know that the iWatch will be similar to other watches, its form factor is still a big unknown. Reports say the device will come in 1.3 inch and 1.5 inch variants for different wrist sizes. The display on the iWatch is expected to be flexible, so that it can wrap around your wrist. The company has reportedly partnered with LG for these flexible displays, which will go into mass production by July.
Apple is putting a huge emphasis on health and fitness with the iWatch, by adding an array of sensors to measure heart/pulse rate, oxygen levels, glucose levels, track sleep patterns etc.
The device is said to include a UV light sensor to track UV sun exposure, heart/pulse rate and blood oximetry (a non-invasive method for monitoring O2 saturation) and provide proximity/gesture control for smartphone and wearable computing products. The company also wants to include non-invasive technology (no skin penetration) to measure blood glucose levels, but the technology is reportedly not ready yet.
Apple has also met the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), possibly to talk about regulatory pathways with medical devices and apps, and if the set of features planned will be outside FDA’s oversight.
The multitude of sensors in the iWatch will feed data to a new iOS 8 app called Healthbook that will give users detailed summaries and stats related to their health and fitness. Healthbook’s interface will be very similar to Passbook, with a stack of cards, and each card representing the category of functionality in the app.
The cards will represent functionality like bloodwork, heart rate, hydration, blood pressure, physical activity, nutrition, blood sugar, sleep, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, and weight.
iWatch will reportedly run a full version of iOS rather than reusing iPod nano’s proprietary touch operating system, that already had some smartwatch functionality built-in. Siri would naturally be a critical part of the iWatch interface, and Apple is working on making it intelligent-enough to automatically decide what appears on the iWatch’s small screen based on the current scenario.
Other iWatch capabilities include making calls, see caller ID, and check map coordinates. Some of these functions like calling will require an iPhone.
One key concern Apple is said to have is the iWatch’s battery life. The company wants the device to run 4-5 days on a single charge, but early prototypes of the device discharged in just two days.
Reports say the iWatch will come with a 100 mAh battery, and will include a wireless charging capabilities that will allow the device to be charged from up to a meter range. The company is also exploring alternative techniques like solar and motion to charge the iWatch.
Apple has switched screen technologies while prototyping to optimise battery life, and will be using stepped Lithium ion batteries that deliver 16 percent more energy.
Since health and fitness is a relatively new area for Apple, the company has been aggressively hiring sleep researchers, fitness, biometric, sensor and fashion experts. Here’s some of Apple’s high profile hires:
- Roy J.E.M Raymann, a sleep researcher who was formerly employed by Philips
- Marcelo Lamego, former CTO of a company specialising in non-invasive patient monitoring technologies
- Bob Masfield, the Apple exec who was brought back to Apple soon after he resigned is leading the iWatch team
- Former Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch will be overlooking iWatch software
- Apple has a team of 100 product designers, led by Jony Ive, working on iWatch hardware
- Paul Deneve, the former CEO of French fashion house Yves Saint Laurent will reportedly help Apple sell wearable devices like the iWatch
- The company was also seeking physiologists for designing and running user studies related to cardiovascular fitness and energy expenditure
- Apple has also tried partnering with, and poaching employees from Swiss watchmakers
Price and Availability
According to reports, at least one model of the iWatch will cost “several thousand” dollars but Apple intends to target the low-end of the market as well. Apple is exploring partnerships with health insurance companies to subsidise the cost of iWatch, just like carriers subsidise iPhone purchases.
Multiple reports say that the iWatch will launch in Q3 this year. LG’s flexible displays for the iWatch will go into mass production by July, and the device will go on sale in September. Apple’s event timeline follows the same pattern every year, with a software-focused WWDC in June, an iPhone event in September and an iPad event in October. While the iWatch is an entirely new product category, the September timeframe suggests that its launch could be launched alongside iPhone 6.
iWatch has been a huge topic of interest among the design community, with artists and designers coming up with a number of iWatch concepts. The concepts give a good idea of the variety of form factors possible for the iWatch:
We expect lot more details to be revealed as we get closer to the event so don’t forget to join our Facebook Fan page, follow us on Twitter, add us to your circles on Google+, subscribe to our RSS feed or our Daily Newsletter for the latest updates.