How hi-tech curved glass could be used for an iWatch

iWatch graphic

Even though there certainly is no shortage of iWatch rumors these days, we’re kinda short on new mockups. Thanks to the United Kingdom’s The Guardian newspaper which yesterday published this detailed mockup, there’s something to chew on on this slow news Monday (it’s Presidential’s Day holiday in the United States).

We already reported on how former Apple exec Jean-Louis Gassée thinks the iWatch is an intimate computer rather than a smart watch with a twist. We also know from Bloomberg that Apple reportedly has a 100-engineer strong team working on the project. Taking it all in, The Guardian newspaper thinks Apple’s take on the Dick Tracy watch takes advantage of recent developments in hi-tech curved glass, cheaper sensors and better voice recognition software…

For example, the above mockup used as an illustration for The Guardian article calls for Corning’s recently unveiled Willow Glass being used on Apple’s curved-glass wearable computer.

I’m not sure about that Retina display and locations services – both power and resource hogs – but the bendable Willow Glass sounds like a no-brainer.

For starters, Corning is an important Apple supplier. Per the company’s U.S. Jobs Creation page, Corning employees in Kentucky and New York produce the majority of the glass for the iPhone.

Corning Willow Glass

We know Corning makes some of the strongest cover glass on the market and Willow Glass combines the toughness of the Gorilla Glass with the slimness and flexibility, both pre-requisites for wearable devices.

As outlined in this promo clip, the technology enables the benefits of glass as a substrate, it’s mechanically reliable due to roll-to-roll processing and results in cost-efficient manufacturing.

And here’s Corning VP and Willow Glass Program Director Dipak Chowdhury explaining why the future is flexible and how the Willow Glass lends itself to bendable products.

Before signing off, Gassée speculates that an Apple iWatch should reinvent the concept of personal computing, all over again.

What really floats their boats, what hardens Apple’s resolve is designing, making, and selling large numbers of personal computers, from the traditional desktop/laptop Mac, to the genre-validating iPad, and on to the iPhone — the Very Personal Computer.

In that sense, he writes, the iWatch should be your most intimate computer yet.

It’s hard to imagine that Apple would merely integrate an existing accessory into a new iPod. Sales of the iPod proper are decelerating, so the iPod-as-iWatch could give the line a much needed boost, but it’s difficult to reconcile the rumors of “100 people” working on the project if it’s just a retrofit job. Is Apple working on an iWatch that can be experienced as an Even More Personal personal computer — an “intimate computer”?

If so, many questions arise: user interface, sensors, iOS version, new types of apps, connection with other iDevices… And, of course price. This would be much more interesting than the perennially in-the-future Apple TV set. Of course, iWatch and Apple TV aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.

So, what do you make of The Guardian’s mockup?

Have we as a society gone past wearing smart watches?

And which would you rather wear in public, Google’s Glasses or Apple’s non-existent iWatch?