Apple is rumored to be working on a new smartwatch currently being called iWatch. Reports say that the company has invited several professional athletes to its campus in Cupertino, Calif. to help test out prototypes of the device.
Most wearable technology has so far failed to generate widespread interest. Although products like Google Glass are certainly pushing boundaries, most of the actual profit in the area has come from fitness-focused devices like FitBit and Nike Fuel. The iWatch seeks to combine both, pairing a slick iOS touchscreen interface with a number of features to track the user's health.
Based on a report by The Wall Street Journal, the iWatch will contain more than 10 sensors which can be used to measure and record health and fitness data, such as the user's pulse. The watches will be made by Taiwan manufacturer Quanta, and production is scheduled to begin early this fall.
In order to test the new device, Apple has brought in a number of well-known athletes, including Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings and an unnamed player from the Boston Red Sox. The partial focus on fitness means the iWatch will likely be a part of Apple's HealthKit initiative, which seeks to gather and analyze health and fitness data from multiple sources.
An unnamed employee at one of the component suppliers for the watch predicts that Apple will sell 10 to 15 million units in the first year alone. For comparison, the entire wearable technology market sold only 2.9 million devices in the first quarter of 2014. Although other companies have met with limited success in the wearable technology business, many analysts believe that Apple's history of pioneering new areas of design along with its ability to design both hardware and software will enable it to break the mold.
"We haven't really seen the big players come out with their best shot," Forrester Research analyst J.P. Gownder told The Wall Street Journal. "No one has done anything completely serious."
The iWatch may also track data that most wearable technology is incapable of accessing. In 2013, Apple hired Todd Whitehurst, who specializes in non-invasive methods of measure blood glucose levels. Ravi Narasimhan, who has experience with sensors that measure skin temperature and respiration rate, was also brought in during 2013. There has been no official comment on the iWatch project yet, but Apple is expected to officially announce the program at an event in October.