Reuters, today: 

 iWatch’s novelty emerges as Apple taps sensor and fitness experts:

Going point-by-point:

Apple has begun assembling a team of hardware and software engineering, medical sensor, manufacturing, and fitness experts, indicating the company is moving forward with a project to build a fitness-oriented, sensor-laden wearable computer, according to our sources.

Next, Reuters reports on a series of hires by Apple over the past year. The report says Apple has hired several people from companies such as Masimo, Vital Connect, Senseonics, and Sano Intelligence:

Apple’s hiring of O’Reilly was first reported back in January along with the hiring of Narasimhan. The hirings of Lamego and Ferdosi were noted in February. Reuters, though, adds the name Alexander Chan (another former Vital Connect staffer) to the mix.

A LinkedIn search shows Masimo chief medical officer Michael O’Reilly; Cercacor chief technology officer Marcelo Lamego; and Vital Connect’s Ravi Narasimhan, vice president of biosensor technology, and Nima Ferdosi, an embedded sensors expert, are among those who have moved over to the Cupertino company.

Next, Reuters profiles the hires of Todd Whitehurst and Nancy Dougherty:

Here’s us on Whitehurst’s hiring back in July of 2013:

Apple has also hired hardware experts Nancy Dougherty, formerly of wearable sensor company Sano Intelligence, and Todd Whitehurst, vice president of product at Senseonics Inc, a glucose monitoring product, according to their LinkedIn profiles.

And our report on Dougherty from January of 2014:

Apple has also poached at least one high-profile employee from Senseonics, a firm that also specializes in sensors to monitor human substances, to work on biometric sensors for wearables. Vice President of Product Development, Dr. Todd Whitehurst, departed for Apple at the beginning of this month, the Maryland-based company confirmed to us during a phone call.

Reuters also notes the hire of Divya Nag, a Stanford researcher:

Here’s us on Nag’s hire (three weeks ago):

And most recently, Divya Nag, founder of StartX Med, a Stanford-affiliated startup accelerator, joined an Apple research and development team two weeks ago to focus on an unspecified healthcare product, two people familiar with the matter say. Nag did not respond to requests for comment.

Reuters also reports that Apple’s medical space plans go beyond hardware:

One mobile health executive, who asked not to be named, told Reuters he recently sat down with an Apple executive from the iWatch team. He said the company has aspirations beyond wearable devices, and is considering a full health and fitness services platform modeled on its apps store. Apple spokesperson Steve Dowling declined to comment on the company’s health-tech plans or its recent hires. The med-tech community is betting on Apple to develop the apps-store style platform so startups can develop their own software and hardware mobile medical applications.

This said platform is the Healthbook service that we reported on in January and revealed in screenshots in March:

The article does, however, add some new information. The report makes the important point that Apple has been hiring people with vast knowledge of trade secrets for various companies, and that this could potentially pose problems for Apple, these employees, and the former employers of Apple hires:

Seven years out from the original iPhone’s introduction, and four years past the iPad’s launch, Apple has found its next market ripe for reinvention: the mobile healthcare and fitness-tracking industry. Apple’s interest in healthcare and fitness tracking will be displayed in an iOS application codenamed Healthbook. I first wrote about Apple’s plans for Healthbook in January, and multiple sources working directly on the initiative’s development have since provided new details and images of Healthbook that provide a clearer view of Apple’s plans for dramatically transforming the mobile healthcare and fitness-tracking space…

It does not appear that any former employers have made legal moves against recent Apple hires, but that would not be unprecedented. IBM sued former executive Mark Papermaster upon his departure to Apple, and a Blackberry executive is currently amid a lawsuit to join Apple as a vice president in its software engineering group. It’s worth reading the Reuters article for more of that insight and reporting.

“Some of the talent (Apple recruited) has access to deep wells of trade secrets and information,” said Joe Kiani, chief executive officer of medical device firm Masimo Corp, who lost his chief medical officer to Apple in mid-2013. Kiani said that Apple was offering sizeable salaries with little indication of what researchers would be doing. “They are just buying people,” he said. “I just hope Apple is not doing what we’re doing.”

Some other recent and pertinent Apple hires not profiled today include fitness expert Jay Blahnik, former fashion designer Paul Deneve, former Nike designer Ben Shaffer, former Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch, sleep scientist Roy Raymann, and optical engineer Ueyn Block. Our sources are also saying that Apple has been exploring potential acquisitions of various medical device companies in recent months, including full-fledged medical product firms that are not smartphone/wearable device focused. So, stay tuned for more on that and various other details as the rumored fall timeframe for the iWatch’s debut approaches.