This ‘Sketchy’ iWatch Rumor May Be Right

The latest rumor on Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iWatch comes from the China Times and says that Taiwanese touchscreen maker TPK will supply a flexible touchscreen panel for the wearable device. Using flexible screen technology will allow Apple to make a device that can contour to different wrist sizes without being bulky.

Digitimes first picked up on the Chinese report, which claims that TPK is now a part of the iWatch supply chain, although the company won’t begin ramping up the production of the screens until later in the year. The report said that the iWatch will have a flexible AMOLED display with 3-D protective glass over it. The touchscreen will also use silver nanowire technology that TPK developed alongside Japanese firm Nissha Printing.

9to5 Mac pointed out that China Times doesn’t have a very good track record in terms of Apple news and called the report a “sketchy rumor.” The website said that using a curved touch-screen from TPK, which has been an Apple supplier in the past, makes perfect sense for the iWatch project, but that this report in particular shouldn’t be viewed as anything more than speculation.

Rumors about the iWatch have been kicking into high gear recently, as analysts are expecting Apple’s first venture into wearable tech to debut sometime in 2014.

One of the most anticipated aspects of the device is its rumored health-monitoring capabilities. Apple has been hiring experts from across the health industry that specialize in non-invasive health sensors, and Apple officials met with the Food and Drug Administration in December. Some have said that Apple will try to avoid the need for the device to be monitored by the FDA, and so the iWatch won’t have capabilities like blood sugar monitoring.

Things the device will still be able to do without FDA approval, according to a recent report from MobiHealth News, include monitoring sleep patterns, calories burned, diet, and stress levels. The device could also remind you when to take medication and help monitor long-term medical conditions by using third-party data from medical apps that have already been cleared by the FDA. Monitoring data on women’s health and pregnancy is another possibility.

Apple’s most recent hire in the medical field is sensor expert Marcelo Lamego. According to his LinkedIn profile page, Lamego last worked as the CTO for Cercacor, a California-based medical device company that specializes in non-invasive health-monitoring technologies. As noted by NetworkWorld, the Stanford-educated doctor led Cercacor’s efforts to develop the Pronto-7, a non-invasive medical device that can detect a patient’s hemoglobin levels, pulse rate, blood oxygen saturation levels, and perfusion index.

Other speculation related to the device’s screen has suggested that it could be made from non-scratchable sapphire. A sapphire display on the smaller iWatch will be more cost effective than using sapphire for the larger iPhone, and many high-end wristwatches use the material for their displays. Apple recently purchased a sapphire manufacturing plant in Arizona that’s expected to be running at full capacity by the end of the month.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been under increasing pressure to innovate, as Apple hasn’t introduced a new product line since the iPad came out in 2010. Based on the information that’s been circulating recently, the iWatch will be a unique product that is hoped to get more people interested in health monitoring than just the few data-obsessed people who currently use such devices. Analysts are already feeling optimistic about Apple’s entrance into wearable tech.

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