At this point, it's no secret that Apple is profoundly interested in wearable devices, with many rumors pegging a new "iWatch" product to be unveiled in the near future. To that end, it looks like the company has tapped one of the best in the business for the wearable category: 9to5Mac is reporting that Apple has hired Nike's Ben Shaffer, the studio director for the company's "Innovation Kitchen." Under Shaffer, a Nike employee since 2011, the Innovation Kitchen brought forth the successful Fuelband fitness tracker as well as an unusual, lightweight running shoe called the Flyknit. Under his leadership, Nike was recently named the most innovative company of 2013 by Fast Company.
9to5Mac posits that Shaffer will use his experience with the Fuelband to implement some fitness-tracking options in Apple's future wearable device, though at this point there's no official word on what Shaffer will be doing at Apple. It's also near-certain that if Apple does introduce a wearable device this year, it likely will have little or no influence from the company's new hire. However, a recent report indicated that Apple might not release such a device until 2014, which means there may be time for Shaffer to exert his influence on the company's entry into the market. If the rumor of Shaffer's hire is correct, it appears he'll join fitness consultant Jay Blahnik, another former member of Nike's Fuelband team.
Update: Nike PR has confirmed to 9to5Mac that Shaffer is no longer with the company.