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Apple's hire of former Atlas Wearables software engineer hints at deep 'iWatch' activity tracking...

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
With 'iWatch' rumors in full swing thanks to Google's recent push into the market, a report on Thursday points to the recent Apple hire of Alex Hsieh, former lead engineer at sports training-oriented fitness device startup Atlas Wearables.


Source: LinkedIn


According to his LinkedIn profile, Hsieh was scooped up by Apple in June and has been working in Cupertino as a firmware developer on an unknown project. The hire was first noticed by Network World.

It is unclear what duties Hsieh's position at Apple entails, though the Johns Hopkins-trained engineer was instrumental in getting Atlas Wearables' unique fitness tracking product off the ground.

When Atlas first launched on crowd funding site Indiegogo in February, AppleInsider spoke with cofounder and CEO Peter Li about the company's plans. Aside from reaching its $125,000 goal (Atlas raised $629,000), the firm is looking to create the most accurate and connected activity tracker on the market.

Li said the device's accuracy is driven in no small part by software powering the internal sensor suite; software Hsieh helped develop. Specialized algorithms based on data collected from personal trainers and fitness gurus are applied to raw data from motion and heart rate sensors, allowing Atlas to automatically determine what exercise is being performed, count reps and sets, calculate the calories burned and even evaluate form.

Combining extremely granular movement tracking with a pool of data from other users, Atlas can reportedly help users reach their fitness goals faster. Li touts the device as the first wearable that can "actually track everything."

Social networking and hooks into third-party fitness apps are also available through the Atlas ecosystem, allowing users to connect with and challenge friends and professional athletes.



Hsieh could potentially be a part of the rumored 'iWatch' platform, which is said to boast more than ten advanced sensors that will help to differentiate the device from existing smartwatches. Being hired as recently as June, however, could mean the new firmware developer is being tasked with future product versions that may not see launch for some time.

Apple's iWatch is thought to tap into a health tracking and logging framework called HealthKit, which was introduced earlier in June at WWDC. HealthKit, along with the corresponding Health app, will be included in the forthcoming iOS 8 mobile operating system.

As for hardware, Apple is expected to launch the much-rumored -- and hyped -- wearable this year, with recent predictions pegging a release date in October.
post #2 of 15
Sounds like a great hire for Apple!

With all the talk about the wearables from LG, Samsung and Motorola these past couple days... do they have this kind of talent?
post #3 of 15
How much of the Atlas technology can be packed into the first gen "iWatch" if Alex Hsieh was just brought on in June? Perhaps this hire reflects work for the second gen device? I'd hate to think the iWatch won't launch this year, but I'm growing pessimistic.

Also, Atlas must hold patents. If so, is Hsieh himself a patent holder? Furthermore, how are rights to these patents split between co-founders? Long term patent license agreements for additional undisclosed boatloads of cash? Why didn't Apple just pick up the whole company?

I never understood how hiring away just one member of a start-up guarantees the purchasing company the right to that tech. Maybe these guys so brilliant that after being hired by Apple they are tasked with engineering work-arounds?

So many questions...far more than answers!
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For your sake, I hope you're right.
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post #4 of 15

Atlas actually looks like a great product, if Apple is planning on doing this kind of thing than I think I will buy the new watch.

post #5 of 15

The greater number of unique qualities and capabilities Apple can bake into the iWatch, the better.

 

The Android watches announced this week look interesting, but they don't seem to be doing things a mobile phone can't.  I think only the new Samsung watch has a heartrate monitor.

 

It would be great if Apple can make the iWatch really helpful and relevant to peoples' lives, in a way that goes beyond just "having a cool secondary little device that does things your phone also does"


Edited by 512ke - 6/26/14 at 3:51pm
post #6 of 15
"really helpful and relevant to peoples' lives"

I think that's kind of Apple's thing.
post #7 of 15
That would be fascinating, but it's definitely concerning how late so many of these hires have come on board. Is there any chance they were stealth-hired much earlier, but the moves were only made public much later?
post #8 of 15

Alex was previously with Maxim... I have used their ICs and love 'em. Great company to have on ones CV. http://www.maximintegrated.com/en.html

 

Welcome aboard Alex.

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Where are we on the curve? We'll know once it goes asymptotic!
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post #9 of 15

I was never sold on the idea of "iWatch". Most of the ones which already exist were just gimmicky. But Atlas' version seemed just like the kind that I would definitely get.

post #10 of 15

Atlas sounds promising. One of the reasons I didn't get the Nike Fuelband was because some reviews said that, being on your hand, it wouldn't log too much information if you are doing stuff like walking on a treadmill.

 

But if Atlas could track something like that, it would be really cool.

 

Whatever Apple is going to announce, it can't come soon enough.

 

On another note, when Hsieh handed in his papers to say he was joining Apple, Atlas Shrugged!

post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carthusia View Post

How much of the Atlas technology can be packed into the first gen "iWatch" if Alex Hsieh was just brought on in June? Perhaps this hire reflects work for the second gen device? I'd hate to think the iWatch won't launch this year, but I'm growing pessimistic.

Also, Atlas must hold patents. If so, is Hsieh himself a patent holder? Furthermore, how are rights to these patents split between co-founders? Long term patent license agreements for additional undisclosed boatloads of cash? Why didn't Apple just pick up the whole company?

I never understood how hiring away just one member of a start-up guarantees the purchasing company the right to that tech.

I don't understand that either and it also scares me. Samsung could read this news and acquire the company in an attempt to compete with Apple.

Apple has deep pockets and could acquire this startup while it's cheap. it would be a shake of the piggyback for apple.
post #12 of 15

Watches and shoes... the belt is another thing that could hold a little computer.

post #13 of 15

Every day I'm more convinced that Apple is only interested in the integration pieces, like they are doing with HomeKit, and that we'll never see an iWatch device.  From the reviews of the Android watches I've read and the one Gear device I've tried, maybe that's for the better.  You can't seem to combine the watch form factor in a size large enough to be useful to have a usable/readable/touchable display without having some huge device hanging off your wrist that looks and feels comically large.

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   Apple develops an improved programming language.  Google copied Java.  Everything you need to know, right there.

 

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post #14 of 15

It's totally possible that they hired him not to replicate Atlas software functionality, but to make sure that the raw data being provided by the iWatch was sufficient to allow Atlas to make an App for the iWatch. 

 

That said, no idea why they wouldn't just buy out Atlas entirely unless Atlas is just insistent on being an independent company. There may be behind-the-scenes deals with Atlas providing an exclusive app for the iWatch. 

post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by John.B View Post
 

You can't seem to combine the watch form factor in a size large enough to be useful to have a usable/readable/touchable display without having some huge device hanging off your wrist that looks and feels comically large.

That's a good point. The whole beauty of touch interfaces is the natural gestures like pinch and zoom etc. It's hard to do that when your finger is 1/4 the size of the whole screen, which is what it would be with a normal sized stylish watch. I don't think Apple will make something oversized. They will make something small and stylish, it will just use something other than a touch interface.

 

Keyboard and mouse is ideal for a large screen. Touch is ideal for a middle sized screen. For a tiny screen? Maybe some combination of voice and a wheel around the outside that you rotate to change modes?

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