Apple set to move into wearables market, according to blog post

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 May, 2014, 9:46pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 May, 2014, 4:37am

Apple will break into the wearables market by incorporating sensors in headphones to measure heart rate and blood pressure, according to a posting on the anonymous app Secret.

The headphones would also use Apple's "iBeacon" system to help locate them if lost, according to the author of the post - who claims to have been let go from the company, along with others, last week.

Apple is also working on an "iWatch" wearable, the author suggested, but said that the "name isn't final yet". That would put it into contention with Samsung, which has released both a smart watch and a "Gear Fit" wristband that claims to measure heart rate, in favour of a minimal product that could be used on millions of its existing products.

The suggestion would also fit well with leaked suggestions that iOS 8, Apple's next version of its iPhone and iPad software, will incorporate a "Healthbook" app. Those leaks, first published by the 9to5Mac website in March, pointed to attempts by Apple to capitalise on the growing interest in tracking fitness.

But other research has also shown that people tend to discard separately bought fitness gadgets within a few months - suggesting that any successful "wearable" would have to have a dual function, one of which was not in health or fitness-related. Apple, however, could have a potential market among its own users of at least 100 million devices which could replace existing headphones with the newer ones.

The nature of Secret means that it is impossible to trace the authors of posts, or verify their identity. But it has gained increasing credibility as a number of staff inside Silicon Valley companies have begun using it and leaking sometimes confidential information.

In April, one post on Secret claimed that Nike was closing its Fuelband wearables division - a claim that was in effect confirmed by the company. Another claimed that Google+ chief Vic Gundotra was looking at jobs outside outside Google; he left two days after the posting appeared.

In the post, the writer claims that "Apple's new EarPods will have sensors in them, for heart rate and blood pressure as well as iBeacons so they don't get lost. They will require the Lightning port [a proprietary connector used only on the iPhone and iPad], it's why the audio jack was moved to the bottom."

They add that "[the phone] stores the data in a similar way to thumbprint point data, fully encrypted and nothing identifiable. But nice to send to your doctor to keep track of at which point your blood pressure started rising, for example."

The author also suggested that the headphones will be introduced when iOS 8 is released - which would probably be in September this year.

An Apple spokesman said the company did not comment on rumours and speculation.