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

Source: LinkedIn

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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.

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.