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On the fifth anniversary of the Apple Watch launch, an original team member reveals some secrets


Five years ago yesterday, Apple released the first Apple Watch. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that the company didn’t call it the iWatch as expected. As it turned out, another company called OMG Electronics had applied for a trademark on the iWatch name back in 2012. The firm had planned on selling a smartwatch and listed one on crowd-funding site Indiegogo in the fall of 2012. Hoping to raise $100,000, OMG received $1,434 in pledges. Needless to say, the device never saw the light of day. There have also been other filings for the iWatch trademark, dating back to 2007.

The first Apple Watch prototype was a sixth-generation iPod nano strapped to a band

One person involved in the development of the Apple Watch is Imran Chaudhri. During his 20 plus years at Apple, Chaudhri’s designs were used on the iPhone, the iPad, the iPod, the Apple Watch, and the AirPods to name a few well-known products. And through a series of tweets, yesterday he shared some images and stories about the Apple Watch on his Twitter page. For example, he revealed that the first prototype of the timepiece was a sixth-generation iPod nano strapped to a watch band. As the designer notes in his tweet, he never had the chance to show Steve Jobs the prototype as he passed away shortly afterward. The image at the top of this article is a reproduction of one of Chaudhri’s original sketches for the Apple Watch home screen.
A little bit of inside trivia was passed along by Chaudhri who reveals that none of the butterflies used in the creation of the Motion watch face were harmed; that’s because they were already dead. They were brought back to life thanks to animation created by filmmaker and photographer Andrew Zuckerman; the blue butterfly lives behind glass at the designer’s home. And if you’re wondering about the creation of the Solar watch face, Chaudhri says he “created the solar watch face as a way for Muslims observing Ramadan to quickly see the position of the sun and for all to understand the sun’s relationship to time.”

The Apple Watch is the world’s most popular timepiece. Let that sink in for a moment. Famous Swiss brands such as Rolex, Longines, and Omega were founded more than a hundred years ago, and they’ve been all blown out of the water by a five-year-old watch made by a company named after a fruit. The Wearables unit that the Apple Watch belongs to is Apple’s fastest-growing division thanks not only to the watch but also because of the wireless Bluetooth AirPods.

After five years, the Apple Watch is known for saving lives. The heart rate monitor alone has given an early warning to so many users that Apple asked some survivors to detail their stories on video. And with the Apple Watch Series 4, the tech giant added an electrocardiogram (ECG) sensor that monitors a user’s heart looking for abnormal rhythms. This feature can help detect atrial fibrillation (Afib) which causes blood clots, stroke, heart failure, and death.
Apple isn’t stopping. We expect the Series 6 Apple Watch to include a pulse oximeter that measures a person’s oxygen saturation levels. Normal levels are between 94% to 100% and a reading under 80% could indicate an imminent heart or brain issue. Oxygen saturation levels recently made the news after an ER doctor wrote in the New York Times that a reduced reading could be an early warning sign of coronavirus. The doctor noted that he had seen people in the ER with an oxygen saturation level as low as 50% acting normally before testing positive for COVID-19. We also might see a native sleep tracking app available on the next Apple Watch.

Apple is also reportedly working on a sensor that would allow the Apple Watch to measure a user’s blood glucose reading. Insulin-dependent diabetics obtain this reading several times a day by pricking themselves with a lancet. If Apple can deliver blood glucose readings painlessly through the Apple Watch, it will give millions another reason to buy the most popular watch in the world.



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