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Is Apple Expanding Into Wearable Devices?

11 February 2013

Apple Inc. is blazing the way for a new category of portable computers to be worn on the wrist, according to media reports. The device, dubbed the “iWatch”, will join a selection of wrist-worn smart devices such as the Fitbit and will have many of the same functions as a smartphone, according to media reports.

Cupertino, California-based Apple is reported to be developing the device with manufacturing partner Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., which operates its manufacturing business under the name Foxconn Technology Group. The wrist-worn device will expand Apple’s market reach beyond portable music, tablets and smartphones and enable it to compete with other wearable gadgets. To date, most of the watch-like devices on the market provide data about the wearer, such as physical activity, calories burned and heart rate.

The technology advancements that will enable the “iWatch” include power-efficient displays and advanced chipsets. One of Apple’s leading suppliers for display and chip technology is Samsung Corp., which is engaged in legal battles with Apple. Samsung and Apple have accused each other of patent infringement in several major markets including the U.S., Europe and Australia.

Samsung, the world’s leading provider of liquid crystal displays (LCDs), is also a leader in the development of organic light emitting diode (OLED) screens which can be manufactured on flexible substrates such as plastic. OLEDs are extremely lightweight, energy-efficient and are easily viewed in intense sunlight. Display maker LG Electronics also partnered with Apple and will begin selling large-screen OLED TVs this month.

Reports say the device would operate on Apple’s iOS software.

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