One of Nike’s top FuelBand designers, Ben Shaffer, has reportedly left the company for Apple, sparking rumors the iPhone maker is developing some sort of wearable technology. Apple has already secured the services of one top Nike executive, and Shaffer’s talents—he worked on the Flyknit shoe in addition to the FuelBand—will no doubt contribute to whatever it is Apple has planned. An iWatch? We still don’t know, but the pieces are certainly falling into place.
At Nike, Shaffer was the Studio Director of the Innovation Kitchen, which sounds a lot like Google’s X Lab, which is responsible for such project as Google Glass and Project Loon. Shaffer’s contributions were much more grounded—and accessible—helping to create the FuelBand and a shoe that’s extremely light, yet durable. During his time at Nike, Shaffer helped the company earn a “Most Innovative Company” award from Fast Company.
Apple has long been an evangelist for Nike’s FuelBand, with many top executives repeatedly lauding its usefulness. With that said, and given the team Apple seems to be assembling, it sure appears the Cupertino company is working on wearable technology of its own, though it’s unclear if it’ll strictly be a fitness tracker or a full fledged smartwatch.
Shaffer is seen has an important figure in the Nike camp, not only for his experience, but because of his approach to design, which closely mirrors Apple’s own processes. With such similar modus operandi, Shaffer will surely fit right in with Apple culture; he’s like a scruffier Jony Ive. With Shaffer bringing his talents over to Apple so late in the year, it doesn’t look like we can expect any wearable tech to come out of Cupertino in 2013. But in the spring of next year? Maybe.