Apple has managed something of a coup with the capture of Jay Blahnik from Nike, who was responsible for the development of many of Nike’s fitness related apps, programs, Nike+ Kinect training, Nike+ Running and, crucially, the FuelBand. The Nike FuelBand is the company’s fitness companion: worn on the wrist, the FuelBand tracks a user’s daily physical activities, from number of steps taken to calories burned. Nike quantifies the user’s daily activity in a metric called NikeFuel, which is shown in a simple progress bar shown on the FuelBand.
Blahnik also boasts 20 years of experience as a fitness consultant for Nike, and was the creator for the Nike Training Club App and the Nike Training Club in-gym program, which boasts over 6 million digital users. His portfolio is certainly impressive, and has built quite a reputation in the fitness industry.
So why is Apple hiring a fitness guru?
For starters, CEO Tim Cook wears a FuelBand, and has openly praised the device before. Bob Mansfield, SVP of Tech at Apple, also wears a FuelBand. In addition, the Nike+ chip syncs exclusively to Apple’s iPhone and iPod.
Blahnik’s capture isn’t the only intriguing hire by Apple: the company has also recruited a team of software engineers, sensor/chip and power efficiency experts recently, all of which point to a new wearable device – most likely the much-rumoured iWatch.
On the other hand, 9to5Mac also speculates that Blahnik’s capture may also lead to development on the battle for the living room. Blahnik previously also worked on the Nike+ Kinect Training game, utilising Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensing technology to send information to a virtual game avatar. Apple is rumored to have been “thoroughly investigating” motion sensing technologies for its “radically new” TV hardware, and the recruit of Blahnik may help in its development.
The signs, however, all point to a very formidable team developing Apple’s first wearable device. While the Samsung Galaxy S4 does pack a similar set of sensors, they appear to fit better on a wearable device – which is why the iWatch would make a lot of sense. Of course, the rumoured Galaxy Gear smartwatch may bring another level of integration that will further elevate Samsung’s “Life Companion” tag for the Galaxy S4.
Sit tight and put on your seatbelts, for the race for wearable technology is well and truly underway.