Apple Hires Ben Shaffer, Top Nike Fuel Band Designer, For Wearable Ideas

It doesn't quite answer all of the lingering questions, but it sure sheds a lot of light on what Apple's doing behind the scenes. As the wearables market explodes, fitness gadgets have found themselves in the spotlight. Startups are coming out of the woodwork to sell health-minded bands, while Google has found a market for an expensive computer / eyeglass device dubbed Glass. The future of computing involves computing devices that are on one's person, and while Apple didn't beat everyone to it (see: Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch), it won't be sitting it out entirely.

The company has just hired one of Nike's lead Fuel Band designers, presumably to join yet another Nike hire from a few months ago in order to develop at least one wearable device for Apple to hawk. Apple has historically had an excellent relationship with Nike. The company's Nike+iPod range is one of the one corporate partnerships between Apple and another entity that involves hardware, and the upcoming Nike Move app was showcased as the flagship app to take advantage of the iPhone 5s' M7 co-processor during the company's launch this month.

Ben Shaffer is the latest wearables-related hire for Apple. At Nike, he worked in the R&D lab and contributed heavily to the heralded Fuel Band bracelet. Apple CEO Tim Cook has gone on the record to suggest that wearables are a category of interest for Apple, but the company has refused to elaborate beyond that. It's likely that 2014 will be the year that Apple springs a new wearable product onto the world, perhaps setting up yet another decade of dominance by capturing the imagination of the public once again -- much as it did with the iPhone in 2007.

Whether it's a bracelet, a headband, or something that you simply clip onto your arm, one thing seems obvious: Apple's going into wearables, and it's looking for outside help to nail the execution.