UPDATE: As of June 22, the iWatch’s development has already been completed according to Apple insiders. However, the manufacturing is being delayed while Apple waits for the Federal Drug Administration’s certification, which can take anywhere between three and seven years. If Apple petitions the watch on the basis that it is similar to other existing health monitoring devices on the market, the approval time could be much shorter. With Apple mysteriously hiring experts in the medical industry earlier in the year, it is extremely likely that FDA approval is currently being sought.
Apple is set to launch its highly anticipated “iWatch” sometime this October, according to Wall Street Journal’s recent article. While at first glance the watch may look like a simple fashion accessory, industry experts speculate that the iWatch will support a number of advanced health sensors. As mentioned in our last entry, the iWatch will most likely be focused on providing and analyzing data, such as calorie consumption, sleep activity, or even monitoring blood glucose and oxygen levels. It was reported this month that Apple consulted the Federal Drug Administration in December to make sure the technology industry and the government were on the same page regarding mobile applications. Additionally, Apple has recently hired a number of professionals in health related fields, most notably Michael O’Reilly, former Chief Medical Officer of Masimo Corp.
The iWatch is currently being tested by professional athletes from the MLB, NHL, and NBA to measure its fitness capabilities. Apple has invited several high profile athletes, such as Las Angeles Laker’s Kobe Bryant and Las Angeles King’s Dustin Brown, to its Cupertino Campus to discuss the watch.
Kobe Bryant at the Apple campus in May, image via 9to5Mac
Despite the hype around smartwatches, many still remain skeptical. According to ABI Research, world-wide sales of wearable devices totaled 2.9 million units in Q1, which is roughly 7 percent of the 43.7 million iPhones sold in the same quarter. However, Nick Spenser, analyst at ABI Research, along with many others believes the true potential of these devices lies in the data they collect. No big players have done anything completely serious in the space of smartwatches, but the potential of wearable devices has garnered a lot of attention. Earlier this month, Apple announced Healthkit, an application that enables users to collect and share data from various third-party wearable devices and apps. Google is expected to follow suit and announce a similar service at a conference next week. Intel CEO, Brian Krzanich, also unveiled a major push in wearable technologies earlier this year, showing off prototypes of a smart watch and a smart earphone headset.
An employee at one of Apple’s component suppliers says the company is expected to ship roughly 10 million to 15 million smart watches this year. In comparison, Apple sold 1.1 million iPhones the first quarter they were available in 2007. If Apple is able to encourage the main stream adoption of these devices it could lead to the creation of an entirely new market.