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Apple board member's remarks pique iWatch speculation

At an event for employees at Intuit, Bill Campbell, an Apple board member and close friend of Steve Jobs, speaks of watches, glasses, and "the application of technology to really intimate things."

Do an image search on "iWatch" and you'll discover plenty of fanciful renderings of the rumored device, from various blogs and Web sites.
Screenshot by Edward Moyer/CNET

Here's another scrap to add to your "Apple's Next Move" file.

Recent remarks from Bill Campbell, an Apple board member and close friend of Steve Jobs, suggest that rumors about an iWatch -- or perhaps even an Apple competitor to Google's high-tech Glass specs -- might be worth heeding.

At an event for Intuit employees this week, Campbell sat down with Intuit CEO Brad Smith for an hourlong chat, discussing, as Businessweek puts it, "things that make a product great, how managers should behave, and some of the recent highs and lows he's seen in the technology industry and beyond."

Though Campbell reportedly said he couldn't offer any specifics on future Apple products, he said we could anticipate "a lot of things going on with the application of technology to really intimate things." And, calling Google Glass a "phenomenal breakthrough," he said, "When you start to think about glasses or watches, they become as intimate as the cell phone was."

Wearable computing, then, seems to be on the minds of those in the know in Cupertino. No surprise, really: such gadgets struck up the buzz at this year's CES confab, and the iWatch rumors have long been flying, with, recently, The New York Times reporting that Apple is experimenting with wristwatch-like iOS devices that feature curved glass, and Bloomberg reporting that the company has about 100 people working on a smartwatch project. (Google and Samsung, too, are potential players in the smartwatch realm.)

Apple has also filed patent applications for watch-relevant flexible displays and for a Glass-sounding "head-mounted display apparatus." (Some have even said Apple will release an iTV product this year that will feature a wearable "iRing" that acts as a kind of remote.)

Campbell's comments, then, add a bit more grist to the mill. And we may not have all that long to wait before we discover if the iWatch rumors are true. In the same report about the 100-person team, Bloomberg cites an unnamed source as saying that Apple wants the device out as soon as this year (and, as CNET's Dan Farber points out, the pressure is on Apple to produce something bold and ambitious again, and in time for the fourth-quarter shopping season).

The same unnamed source who told Bloomberg about an arrival date for the gadget, also said it could include features that let its users make calls, see the identity of incoming callers, check map coordinates, use a pedometer for counting steps, and monitor their heart rate and other health data via sensors. CNET's Scott Stein and Donald Bell have their own wishlists of iWatch features, which you can check out here.