Pictured above: The Paradox iPod nano watch kit

The New York Time’s Nick Bilton, who reported in October Apple’s alleged television plans describing “large parts floating around” Apple’s supply chain that looked like they “could be part of a large Apple television,” is back with a new story. He recently implied Apple’s researched prototyped small and wearable devices.

According to the article published last night, both Apple and Google have worked for years on wearable computers that interface with smartphones (having the ultimate goal of selling more smartphones):

A person with knowledge of the company’s plans told me that a “very small group of Apple employees” had been conceptualizing and even prototyping some wearable devices. [...] Apple has also experimented with prototype products that could relay information back to the iPhone. These conceptual products could also display information on other Apple devices, like an iPod, which Apple is already encouraging us to wear on our wrists by selling Nanos with watch faces.

Interestingly, a year ago, Apple hired wearable computer wizard Richard DeVaul. He is believed to be developing secret wearable product prototypes under the guidance of Jonathan Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design. Specifically, aNew York Times story described a curved glass iPod:


One idea being discussed is a curved-glass iPod that would wrap around the wrist; people could communicate with the device using Siri, the company’s artificial intelligence software.

In September, DigiTimes quoted supply chain sources that claimed Apple was readying unspecified devices sporting curved glass touchscreen for an early 2012 launch. Bilton’s story is in line with 9to5Mac’s recent prediction and sounds similar to Samsung’s flexible AMOLED display technology that is coming to their smartphones and tablets in 2012.

However, even if the New York Times’ report is true, and Apple has in fact been exploring wearable devices, this is no guarantee the company will market any such device as demand for those gadgets may not be big enough. Besides, the company often researches concepts that never see the light of the day, as evident in their numerous patent filings. Eventually, Apple may one day release a wearable iOS device of its own.

For starters, Apple deployed Bluetooth 4.0 technology with 2011 Mac minis and MacBook Airs and continued with the iPhone 4S, which is a Bluetooth Smart Ready device, meaning it can interact with peripherals such as  heart-rate monitors or smart watches. In June, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group added Apple to its board of directors for two years, another telling sign. Apple’s latest move to help proliferate Bluetooth 4.0 iOS peripherals involves a China conference for hardware partners to unveil a new certification chip and urge peripheral makers to get busy making Bluetooth 4.0-compliant iOS accessories.

Unlike the previous incarnation, the latest Bluetooth 4.0 specification offers the convenience of an extremely low-power and low-latency wireless transfer up to 50 meters away. Instead of taking up to six-seconds to pair, like current Bluetooth implementations, Bluetooth 4.0 takes just six milliseconds.

In regard to Bilton’s article, a future iPod nano with Bluetooth 4.0 might seem like a no-brainer. Let us not forget that 9to5Mac recently discovered evidence of Bluetooth 4.0 support through the Broadcom BCM4330 chip in an upcoming Apple TV hardware refresh. It is reasonable to assume that Apple will soon add Bluetooth 4.0 capabilities to their entire gadget lineup. Add Siri into the mix and suddenly all pieces of the puzzle are falling into place for Apple to launch Bluetooth Smart Ready wearable devices that could interface with the iPhone and accept spoken commands through Siri. Thoughts? Meet us in comments.

Depicted below: Samsung’s vision of the future involving flexible displays and another one showing off a prototype rollable and bendable display (demoed at CES 2011) that can survive blows from a hammer.

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