The inventor of the long-awaited Apple iWatch, is a mechanical engineer who designed and developed the iPod, and also worked on recent iPhone innovations. Identified on Apple’s U.S. patent application 20130044215 as Fletcher R. Rothkopf, he worked with two other Apple engineers on an invention described as a “wearable accessory device,” now popularly known as the iWatch, which reliable sources believe is scheduled for release soon.
Rothkopf also led a project to improve the iPhone, and over a five-year period steadfastly worked on turning Apple’s industrial designs into reality. However like the rest of the Apple team, he is not making any statements about the design, functionality, or release date of the device that has been dubbed “iWatch.”
Currently manager of product design at Apple, Rothkopf leads various teams of engineers who design and manufacture innovative, mass producible and robust consumer electronic products. During a three-month internship in 2005, he did a lot of work on the original iPod Touch, and later led the five-person mechanical team that designed the third and fourth (current) iPod Touch. He “architected” the iPod Nano, at that stage Apple’s “thinnest product with a screen,” and was in charge of a project that was tasked to find “new materials and architectures” for the “next-generation iPhone.”
Rothkopf, who holds or has applied for more than 30 US patents (including the “wearable accessory device”), and has more than a further 25 “in progress,” is listed with two other “inventors” on the patent application that was published on February 21 last year. They are Derek W. Wright, a product design engineer at Apple, and Scott A. Myers, a former design engineer at Nokia, who is currently manager of iPhone product design at Apple.
Apple’s Secrets and Rumors
Apple is known to be secretive about its new products, as Rothkopf confirmed in an interview with his Chicago high school, Francis W. Parker. At the time he shared that he was “developing new technologies for the iPhone,” but said he was unable to say much about it because “Apple is a secretive company.”
Current rumors abound about both the iWatch and iPhone 6, as well as the possibility of an iPad Pro. However, the company refuses to confirm anything, even that their engineers and designers are working on an Apple iWatch or new IPhones and iPads. Nevertheless, CEO Tim Cook has frequently boasted over the past year that Apple has the correct skills combinations to be able to launch into exciting, new product categories. Not long ago, he was quoted as saying that the Apple teams were “hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software, and services” that would be launched “throughout 2014.” With all the patents he has to his credit, it is very likely that we will hear very soon that inventor Rothkopf has worked on, if not designed, all of these.
Apple’s Patent Application
Apple Inc’s patent application, which was filed on August 17, 2011 but only published on February 21, 2013, has still not been approved. However it describes what is widely perceived to be the Apple iWatch, as a wearable accessory device or “wearable video device,” that has a “flexible display coupled to a bi-stable spring.” The device is described in great detail and illustrated with 18 pages of very basic drawings, diagrams and additional descriptions that show how it is worn around the wrist, and how it works.
Essentially, the device will be made of a flexible material that can be curled or used flat, and will be capable of passing on and receiving information electronically between it and a “portable electronic device.” There will be a flexible display with visual information on the accessory device, as well as visual information displayed on the electronic device. A wireless “slap bracelet” with a communication link will display this information.
These components, the application states, will be powered by “kinetic energy” via a battery that might be solar-powered. It has been reported that Apple advertised a job last September for somebody who had expertise in the solar field. Furthermore, commentary on the contents of the patent application state that the portable device mentioned would probably be an iPhone, particularly since it might connect using Bluetooth.
A Watch for Health and Fitness
Like most patent applications, this one gives numerous options in terms of the final design of the device. This approach allows designers and developers to experiment with a range of innovative ideas before they decide on their first-generation product. Recent reports focus on health and fitness benefits the device is going to have, and state that the company has hired a number of medical people and sleep experts to help with the project. It has also been reported that they have been working closely with the FDA.
There are reports that Apple is also developing a health app that will be used with the iWatch to track data and analyze it. Referred to as “Healthbook,” it is rumored that the app will be able to do everything from monitoring blood pressure and heart rate, to working out how many calories you have burned, using the same movement tracking chip that is already used in the iPhone 5S.
No-body really knows what the iWatch (or whatever they eventually decide to call the device) will look like. Once an inventor or designer has worked on the mechanical architecture and part-design of a new product, it will start to come together. And once the “wearable accessory device” has become what Rothkopf terms a “manufacturable reality,” then it will be launched and the public will be told all its secrets. That is exactly what happened when they designed every iPod and every iPhone launched to date. Now we just wait for the Apple iWatch.
By Penny Swift