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The New York Times tech columnist Nick Bilton has recycled his December 2011 story of a curved-glass iPod, now claiming in a new piece published this morning that a wearable computer by Apple is actually in the works. An iWatch apparently runs iOS, the story has it, and will stand apart from competition based on Apple’s “understanding of how such glass can curve around the human body”.

Not to be outdone by its chief competitor, the credulous Wall Street Journal just issued its own iWatch report corroborating Bilton’s article and adding a few tidbits of its own…

Jessica E. Lessin, reporting for the Journal:

Apple Inc. is experimenting with designs for a watch-like device that would perform some functions of a smartphone, according to people briefed on the effort.

The company has discussed such a device with its major manufacturing partner Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., one of these people said, as part of explorations of potentially large product categories beyond the smartphone and tablet.

I for one wouldn’t wear a watch, even if its an Apple one. I don’t need something else to take care of

— Michael Steeber (@MichaelSteeber) February 10, 2013

The article goes on to note that Foxconn’s been working on a spate of technologies that could be used in wearable devices.

"In particular, the Taiwan-based company has been working to address the challenges of making displays more battery-efficient and working with chip manufacturers to strip down their products. The technologies are aimed at multiple Foxconn customers, this person said."

Conveniently enough, DigiTimes reported in May 2011 that Apple bought expensive glass-cutting machines.

"@arnoldkim did you have an LG chocolate touch?

— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) February 10, 2013"

Last August, NetworkWorld reported Apple had been experimenting with a curved-glass iPhone but ditched the idea because it cost a lot to cut shaped glass.

The technology at the time had a lot to do with it. The qualities of the glass at the time had a lot to do with it. These are models – I’m trying to remember a time frame – that were before gorilla glass and before a lot of the other factors.

The technology in shaping the glass, the cost relative to shaping the glass at the time, and some of the design features of this specific shape were not liked.

Last year, Corning announced Willow Glass, which has the thinness, strength, and flexibility to enable displays to be "wrapped" around a device or structure. Pete Bocko, the chief technology officer for Corning, says the technology has finally arrived.

“You can certainly make it wrap around a cylindrical object and that could be someone’s wrist,” Mr. Bocko said. “Right now, if I tried to make something that looked like a watch, that could be done using this flexible glass.”

However, Bocko says it would still be quite a feat to make a folding device. “The human body moves in unpredictable ways,” he said. “It’s one of the toughest mechanical challenges.”

No doubt an Apple watch would be an exciting product for many. Notably, Bruce Tognazzini, a former Apple employee who specializes in human-computer interaction, recently outlined the many benefits of an Apple iWatch and suggested the device could even help improve Maps.


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