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August 15, 2016
What I Learned Working With Jony Ive's Team on the Apple Watch
Meet Bob Messerschmidt.

Apple quietly acquired Messerschmidt’s startup in 2010 (after Messerschmidt sent Steve Jobs an unsolicited email, but that’s another story). Afterwards, Messerschmidt was placed on the Apple Watch team, where he led a group charged with architecting new sensor technologies for the device. The heart rate sensors on the Apple Watch we know today are the creation of Messerschmidt and his team. Because health and wellness are perhaps the main use cases for the Watch, Messerschmidt played a central role in the Watch’s overall design, and had regular interaction with the vaunted Industrial Design Group led by Jony Ive. Messerschmidt has since gone on to found his own company, Cor (which you’ll hear more about below). He agreed to talk to Fast Company about the lessons he learned about design, collaboration, secrecy, the Vision Thing, and the Apple Way during his three years at Apple. This is what he said, in his own words. Only minor edits were made, for clarity and continuity.

I was an architect. I was functioning in the role of developing candidate technologies that could go into such a product. My group and I were the people who saw basically first light of an idea. We would say "we think this is possible." And then it would get deployed into teams of many, many more engineers with specific skill sets. They would try to productize it.

A lot of the early ideation of the Watch was, and had to be, about user experience. What are people going to do with this product and what makes it useful? It became the sort of thing where we had to be more creative as technologists because of what we were hearing about the user requirements.

I was responsible for doing the architecture of the heart rate sensors, so these are mine (points to the sensors on the underside of his Watch). It was not trivial to get these to work given the design constraints. That’s what’s kind of special.


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This article was published on Fast Company. A link to the original piece appears after the post. www.fastcompany.com
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