iWatch

Nick Bilton, The New York Times:

In its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., Apple is experimenting with wristwatch-like devices made of curved glass, according to people familiar with the company’s explorations, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they are not allowed to publicly discuss unreleased products. Such a watch would operate on Apple’s iOS platform, two people said, and stand apart from competitors based on the company’s understanding of how such glass can curve around the human body.

Flexible glass? It’s been some time since Corning announced Willow. But if it’s curved glass, that’s old news: Nokia N9, iPod nano, Nexus S, etc. So what is Apple working on? My guess: A flexible band, with a flexible display and flexible electronics.

There is a small but growing trend of what’s called wearable computing with two major product categories. On the one end is anchored by watches like the Pebble, a US$150 Bluetooth watch sporting an e-paper display that connect to the iPhone and Android smartphones providing notification-based conveniences and apps. Those apps enable the Pebble to control music on your smartphone, track speed, distance, etc. for biking and running.

On the other end of the wearable computing spectrum are bracelets, like the $150 Nike FuelBand. The FuelBand features a simple dot-matrix LED display and constantly measures your activities: running, walking up stairs, washing dishes, lifting up your baby, etc. The FuelBand companion app, which is iOS and web only, generates attractive activity graphs.

Wearable computing at the moment focuses on convenience and/or activity monitoring, but it could be so much more. If Apple enters the wearable computing space with a flexible band I can guarantee one thing: This space will get a lot more exciting.

Update 2013.02.28: Bloomberg:

Corning Inc., the maker of glass for Apple Inc. iPhones, said it will probably take at least three years before companies start making flexible displays using its new Willow material.

Even though Willow has been out for some time Willow-equipped devices are three years out according to James Clappin, president of Glass Technologies at Corning. I hope he’s proven to be too conservative.