Heads up, wearable tech aficionados: Motorola Mobility is looking to produce some new wearable gadgets and it wants some help. The Google-owned company quietly posted a job listing yesterday looking for someone to fill the role of senior director of industrial design for wearables — according to the post, that person will “provide strategic leadership, champion innovation and institute best practices to create a new world-class wearable’s [sic] design group within Motorola.”
At first glance, it seems like the sort of person the more business-centric Motorola Solutions would be looking for — after all, they’ve got plenty of experience in wearable computing as it is — but references in the listing to the company’s “future with Google” make it clear this isn’t just an instance of a post going up on the wrong career site. Then again, Motorola Mobility was responsible for devices like the ill-fated MOTOACTV (seen above), so they’re not exactly strangers to wearable tech either.
Of course, there’s very big question we need to address here: what exactly does Motorola mean when they use the word “wearables”? At this point it’s tough to say, but Regina Dugan, head of MM’s Advanced Technology and Research Group, gave us a bit of a hint when she took at the stage at AllThingsD’s D11 conference. At the time noted that she was “profoundly interested in wearables, and showed off an electronic authentication “tattoo” developed by MC10 — essentially an ultra-thin patch loaded up with very small antennas and sensors — that Motorola would be helping to advance in conjunction with the company.
That sounds pretty niche to be honest, but it may just be the tip of the iceberg if the language in the job listing is any indication. There are repeated references to the importance of consumer appeal: the person who lands the gig must “define design strategies that synthesize technology innovation and consumer desires” and “ensure creative direction for design is consumer focused”, which make it look like Motorola eventually wants to release a wearable device that’s meant for the masses. That jibes rather nicely with remarks made by Motorola consumer experience design SVP Jim Wicks last month at TechWeek in Chicago — he suggested in his keynote address that people won’t be hunched over their gadgets in the future, and that wearable tech will continue pick up steam.
Motorola definitely isn’t the only one tackling the wearable tech trend, as parent company Google has reportedly been working on a smartwatch for a while now, and Apple has reportedly been fleshing out its staff with health and sensor experts who may be working on fitness-friendly wrist-worn gadget.
This isn’t the first time that Motorola let an upcoming initiative slip thanks to a publicly available job posting — earlier this year the Google-owned company was caught trying to hire a senior director of product management for the “X-Phone”, a device we know now to be the Moto X. To absolutely no one’s surprise, that job listing disappeared shortly after it started getting media attention, but the proverbial damage was already done.
As it happens, Motorola is still looking for quite a few people — there are some 450 job openings listed on the Motorola Mobility careers page. Google revealed yesterday in its quarterly earnings release that between March and June of this year, Motorola Mobility lost more than half of its nearly 10,000 person workforce — some certainly moved on of their own volition, but the rest likely were given the boot to help streamline the company staunch the operational losses it’s reported regularly ever since Google acquired it last year.
UPDATE: Motorola has responded to say that the “vast majority” of those people worked in manufacturing in China and Brazil, and have been transferred to Flextronics.