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Top Nike designer reportedly joins Apple

The company has tapped Nike's Ben Shaffer -- a move that is sure to ignite the rumor mill over Apple's plans for a smartwatch.

Nike's FlyKnit shoes, a product Nike's Shaffer was involved in creating.
Nike's FlyKnit shoes, a product Nike's Shaffer was involved in creating.

Apple iWatch theorists will have something to chew on, as the company has reportedly tapped one of Nike's top design directors, Ben Shaffer, to work on wearable products, according to 9to5Mac.

Shaffer was the Studio director of Nike's research and development lab, Innovation Kitchen, which worked on the popular Nike FuelBand, a wristband that helps users keep track of personal fitness habits.

The hire, which remains unconfirmed by Apple, comes amid wide speculation that Apple's working on a wearable, watch-like device. Shaffer's addition to the Apple team is sure add more fuel to that fire.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment, and typically doesn't anyways on any non-executive hires.

Notably, Apple CEO Tim Cook sits on Nike's board, and has been a vocal fan of the FuelBand. At the D conference series earlier this year, Cook called wearable computing "profoundly interesting."

Update, 11:54 a.m. PT: Nike PR has confirmed that Shaffer is no longer at the company, said Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac, who penned the original report:

Update, 1:50 p.m. PT: Austin Carr at Fast Company reported that, while Shaffer headed the R&D lab that developed the FuelBand, he didn't actually work on that product. Carr said Shaffer mainly worked on the FlyKnit, Nike's flagship line of lightweight shoes.

Shaffer wasn't really involved in the FuelBand project. He was not a "FuelBand designer"; rather, his contributions at Nike were related to footwear innovation. In fact, one Nike source just told me that it's his understanding that Shaffer didn't even do work on the FuelBand.

Update, 1:50 p.m. PT: CNET changed the headline to reflect Shaffer's involvement at Nike.