Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is said to be experimenting with a wristwatch-like smart device made of curved glass in its research and development labs and has even discussed it with its main manufacturing partner, Hon Hai Precision Industry. The device, straight from science fiction movies, would operate on Apple’s iOS platform, according to The New York Times.
With wearable technology a definite trend of the near future, several analysts have spoken of the possibility of Apple launching such a device soon. According to Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, a wearable computer that is cheaper than an iPhone and can make voice calls, send text messages, do quick searches, and assist in navigation could be Apple’s “best answer to addressing emerging markets.”
The last version of the iPod Nano, with its 1.5-inch display, was turned into a watch by several users, with even Apple Stores selling watch bands that turned the music player into a wearable accessory. The newest version of the music player fails to serve the same purpose because of its larger size.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Taiwan-based Hon Hai has already been working to address the challenges of making displays more power-efficient and working with chip manufacturers to strip down their products.
In addition, Corning (NYSE:GLW), which supplies Gorilla Glass for Apple’s iPhones, announced last year that it had solved the challenge of creating bendable glass.
“You can certainly make it wrap around a cylindrical object and that could be someone’s wrist,” Pete Bocko, the chief technology officer for Corning Glass Technologies, told The WSJ. “Right now, if I tried to make something that looked like a watch, that could be done using this flexible glass.”
Sarah Rotman Epps, a Forrester analyst who specializes in wearable computing and smartphones, told The NYT that Apple’s had made a lot of hiring in that specific area recently. “Apple is already in the wearable space through its ecosystem partners that make accessories that connect to the iPhone,” she said. Epps was referring to the Nike (NYSE:NKE) FuelBand, which pairs with an iPhone app. “This makes Apple potentially the biggest player of the wearables market in a sort of invisible way.”