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Saturday, September 28, 2013, 11:42 am PT (02:42 pm ET)

Apple's recent hire from Nike wasn't FuelBand designer, focused on shoes

Contrary to earlier reports, Apple's recent hiring of a Nike designer was not related to his involvement in the Nike FuelBand project, because Ben Shaffer wasn't even involved in the wearable device.

Nike


Dispelling recent rumors about Apple's hiring of Shaffer, Fast Company reported this week that the former Nike designer "didn't even do work on the FuelBand." Instead, Shaffer's contributions at Nike involved "footwear innovation."

When Apple's hiring of Shaffer was revealed on Friday, it was initially — and incorrectly — reported that Shaffer was behind the FuelBand project. But the designer's time at Nike was focused on the Flyknit, a flagship, ultra-light line of sneakers from the shoemaker.

"If Apple wanted to steal talent from the FuelBand project, it would likely want to start with Nike's Digital Sport group or with a design firm like Astro," Fast Company's Austin Carr wrote. "Yes, Shaffer served as the Innovation Kitchen's studio director, but he and that group are all centrally involved in footwear: There are knitting machines and shoe prototypes all over the lab. The Digital Sport group, which led development of the FuelBand, is actually in a separate building."

With Apple rumored to be working on a wearable device dubbed the "iWatch," hopeful reports presumed that Shaffer might be nabbed from Nike for an alleged expertise in wearable electronics. But while it's possible Shaffer could end up working on an "iWatch" product, his hiring apparently has nothing to do with Nike's FuelBand fitness tracker.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook revealed himself to be a FuelBand wearer in an interview earlier this year.

But the company has also shown interest in devices such as "smart shoes" that notify users when they need replacing. A patent application uncovered by AppleInsider in January described a sensor and alarm system that could be embedded in footwear, informing users when the shoes are worn out.