Both The New York Times Bits blog and the Wall Street Journal have reported that Apple is currently developing a smart watch. According to anonymous sources, the company is experimenting with “wristwatch-like devices made of curved glass” that would operate on Apple’s iOS platform in its Cupertino headquarters.
The New York Times report says that Apple’s watch would differentiate itself from competing devices “based on the company’s understanding of how such glass can curve around the human body” (like a Kraken tentacle, eh?). Though it’s unclear what features the watch will have or even when it will be released, it’s reasonable to assume that an Apple watch will be constructed from glass from Corning, which made the Gorilla Glass that is used in the iPhone and announced last year that after a decade of development, it had created bendable glass, called Willow Glass.
Pete Bocko, the chief technology officer for Corning Glass Technologies, told the New York Times, that “you can certainly make [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.”
This is not the first time that reports of an Apple watch have surfaced. Last December, Chinese gadget news site Tech.163 said that Apple may be in the process of developing its own smartwatch that connects Apple devices via Bluetooth. That report said Apple would be working with Intel to create the smart watch with a 1.5-inch PMOLED display made by RiTDisplay with ITO-coated glass.
Like every other Apple rumor that has ever surfaced and will continue to surface, time without end, this one should be taken with a little sprinkling of salt (maybe a soupcon of Green-e certified Himalayan salt, because this is Apple that we’re talking about). But there are several signs that an Apple smart watch may indeed soon come to fruition. Many users rig the iPad nano into a full-functioning watch with the simple addition of an overpriced wristband. But the iPod nano/strap combo faces stiff competition from high-profile upstarts like the e-paper, Bluetooth-enabled Pebble, which started shipping watches at the end of January after raising an impressive $10.2 million on Kickstarter. Even Sony has its own smart watch, called (ahem) SmartWatch, which works with Android-based smartphones.
It would be a wise move for Apple to get on the watch bandwagon as soon as possible. As MG Siegler noted a few weeks ago, it would be surprising if competitors like Google aren’t also working on their own smart watches. There are a lot of people out there who would enjoy the convenience of a bluetooth watch connected to their smartphones, not just for the convenience but also to play out their Dick Tracy fantasies (or, in my case, their Penny from Inspector Gadget fantasies).