The mysterious team behind Apple Watch’s non-invasive blood sugar measurement holds Apple’s future

Apple Park is arguably the biggest product Steve Jobs and Jony Ive have ever built together, and it's also the last product they'll ever work together.

▲ In 2010, Jobs and Ive demonstrated FaceTime on the iPhone Image from: Reuters

Apple Park covers an area of ​​71 hectares and can accommodate 12,000 employees. In addition to the Steve Jobs Theater (Jobs Theater), which we often see in press conferences, Apple Park also has considerable office space, R&D laboratories, conference centers, restaurants and Outdoor green space and other facilities.

Occupying such a large area, having considerable functions, and adhering to the concept of sustainable energy power supply, Apple Park is also known as the most expensive corporate headquarters in the world.

And the spaceship-like design style is also Apple's invisible technological creativity to the outside world .

Probably before a certain node, for the outside world, Apple's design team is the star active in front of the product launch stage, Jony Ive gave his family's voice, slowly revealing the origin of the iPhone and iPad design details.

Afterwards, this link on the press conference stage was replaced by a more hard-core chip R&D team, and Johny Srouji, vice president of core manufacturing, and Tim Millet, an architecture engineer, is becoming a new "star".

The turning point is that Apple Silicon has gradually become an ecological barrier, and it has gradually become the unique competitiveness that Apple is relying on.

Johny Srouji not only leads Apple's core manufacturing, but also the leader of the mysterious department of Apple XDG (Exploratory Design Group).

Before Johny Srouji, this position was actually Jony Ive. This series of changes and transformations is not a coincidence, but a strategic adjustment of Apple.

XDG is Apple's X division

Apple XDG (Exploratory Design Group Exploratory Design Team), before breaking out last week with a breakthrough in non-invasive blood sugar monitoring technology, should still be an unknown department.

The obscurity here does not mean that they have not explored enough, but that Apple has hidden them deeply enough.

Or in Apple Park, with the exposure of the core-making team, these behind-the-scenes teams that prefer hard-core technology are being discovered and known by the outside world.

As we all know, Apple has always been tight-lipped about its products, future plans, and some functions of internal teams.

Even though Apple Park has a fairly large area and a considerable number of employees, in fact, we don't know much about Apple's internal operations and related product teams.

According to the abbreviation of the full English name, XDG should actually be called EDG, but the abbreviation of X also means infinite exploration of the unknown future.

Its existence is actually similar to the well-known Google X (now Alphabet X) laboratory.

Google X Lab is not limited to one field, or the current hot spot. It's a bit like turning the unconstrained ideas of top engineers into real projects, products or services.

Changing the world and changing human life is the goal of X Lab. Whether it makes money or has commercial value is not the first choice.

So far, Google X Labs has launched Google Glass, focused on Waymo self-driving, Loon Internet balloon project, and more.

The goal of Apple’s establishment of XDG is also to explore, focusing on batteries, next-generation display technology, wireless charging, chips, artificial intelligence, etc.

The non-invasive blood glucose monitoring that has recently exploded is just one area of ​​XDG research.

Prior to this, some technologies incubated in XDG, such as the T chip in the Mac, MagSafe in the iPhone, and Apple Watch, have been successfully introduced to the consumer market.

At the same time, AR/VR helmets and glasses are also dominated by XDG, and XDG's projects are becoming an important piece for Apple in the future.

Remain independent and operate without limitations

I remember that before reshaping the MacBook Pro, Apple set up a Pro Workflow team to provide advice in order to meet the workflow of the Pro user group.

And let the core-making team, design team, and hardware team work together to build products from scratch. Communication and cooperation are a prerequisite for creating more pragmatic products.

The Smart Island plan on the subsequent iPhone 14 Pro series is actually the result of the collaboration between the hardware and software departments.

However, the Apple XDG team is just the opposite. Not only are the project teams within the team relatively independent, even engineers working on a project are not allowed to communicate with other project members. Externally, they will not overlap with other teams.

Remaining absolutely independent operation, only for one purpose, is to determine whether those strange ideas are feasible.

There are no so-called deadlines and budget constraints within XDG, and sufficient resources are provided for each project.

This is probably the case. The Apple XDG team is similar to the start-up team. The staff structure is very streamlined. There are only about a hundred people, most of whom are engineers and scientists.

▲ The rumored Apple Car rendering

It pales in comparison to the hundreds of people in Apple's Special Projects Group, which focuses on smart cars , and the thousands of engineers in Apple's Technology Development Group.

However, the staff composition of XDG is much more stable. SPG's smart car project has frequent staff turnover, and the follow-up is more like an ordinary department of Apple.

Technology media reporter Mark Gurman also revealed that the XDG team includes Apple's top engineers Jeff Koller (Jeff Koller), Dave Simon (Dave Simon), Heather Sullens (Heather Sullens), Brian Ray Bryan Raines and Jared Zerbe.

Among them, Kohler, Simon, and Salens started the blood glucose monitoring project, while the latter two participated in the management of other project teams.

The people in XDG are not like other Apple teams that are product-oriented and thus gather engineers.

Instead, they are combined with different skills. In this way, engineers can be freely combined in a project without being obsessed with conventional collocations.

After the XDG team verifies that those ideas can be implemented, Apple will transfer the new technology to the corresponding department, and the hardware team, software team, etc. will collaborate and finally present it in related products.

Visually speaking, Apple XDG is more like an Apple think tank role, proposing ideas and doing a verification work.

Apple was once led by top engineer Bill Athas, who was also considered Apple's smartest engineer by Steve Jobs and Tim Cook. It can be said that the strongest brain of an engineer leads the strongest brain department of Apple's internal team.

From design to technology

The concept of non-invasive blood sugar technology can go deep into the layout of Apple's technology and medical treatment when Steve Jobs was sick, and successively acquired RareLight and Avolonte Health.

Subsequent Avolonte Health also gradually evolved into the predecessor of Apple XDG.

▲ Avolonte Health, known as one of Apple's mysterious departments, picture from: Google Street View

Later, it was led by Apple's chief designer Jony Ive, who took the inspiration for the Apple Watch and brought it to the market.

During this period, XDG is still a bit biased towards products, as is the case with Apple Watch and AirPods.

The emergence of these unique products first brings people different designs, including hardware and software, which bring freshness to human-computer interaction.

Secondly, there are some technical applications behind it. Apple Watch, AirPods and other products rely on the underlying chips to form the Apple ecosystem.

As for the emergence of XDG, there is another argument. It was formed a few years ago, organized by top engineers like Bill Athas, brought together by some projects, and eventually gradually evolved into a special team.

As mentioned above, XDG is project- and technology-oriented rather than product-oriented. Today, XDG is part of Apple's hardware division, led by Apple Senior Vice President Johny Srouji.

The current XDG is more like a pure, hard-core pioneering technology team, and technologies such as T chips and blood sugar monitoring are gradually being introduced to the market.

In fact, no matter what kind of statement it is, in the huge Apple headquarters, there will always be a team that is responsible for exploring the future.

Before Apple took the initiative to propose the key node of Apple Silicon, Apple gave the outside world the impression that competitiveness is overflowing design power.

It can be a simple and refined design language that exists on iPhone, iPad, and Mac, as well as human-computer interaction in software systems, etc.

At that time, Apple mostly stood in the industry with one product or product line.

But as the Apple Silicon universe becomes a reality, individual products are connected in series and weaved into an ecological network.

Apple has also returned to a kind of original competition, which is biased towards internal technology as the core.

At this time, Apple's products began to use the chip-built product system as their competitiveness. As the brain, XDG also began to focus on those more primitive core technologies.

#Welcome to pay attention to Aifaner's official WeChat public account: Aifaner (WeChat ID: ifanr), more exciting content will be presented to you as soon as possible.

Ai Faner | Original Link · View Comments · Sina Weibo