Here’s what Apple’s secretive Exploratory Design Group is working on

Earlier this week, a report offered an in-depth look at Apple’s ongoing work to develop noninvasive blood glucose monitoring technology. This work is happening within Apple’s secretive Exploratory Design Group, and a new report from Bloomberg today sheds more light on the inner workings of the XDG team.

In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman explains that XDG “operates as a startup with Apple.” There are a few hundred people on the team, consisting primarily of engineers and academic types. The team works out of a building known as Tantau 9, which is right outside the ring at Apple Park.

In terms of the organization of XDG, it technically operates within Apple’s Hardware Technologies Group led by Johny Srouji. Its day-to-day operations are led by a handful of engineers and scientists. It was previously led by long-time “engineering fellow” Bill Athas, but Athas passed away unexpectedly at the end of 2022.

Unsurprisingly, XDG is incredibly secretive and compartmentalized:

While the team operates as a startup, it is still compartmentalized like any other Apple division: People working on one project within XDG are not allowed to communicate about their work with other members of XDG that are assigned to different projects.

But the team’s members are organized by skill sets rather than individual projects. That means that one engineer could be working on several initiatives that fit their skills, rather than on one specific product

Bloomberg explains that XDG is “primarily focused” on Apple’s noninvasive blood glucose monitoring technology, but there are “several other projects underway.” Today’s report says XDG is working on next-generation display technology as well as AR and VR features for Apple’s headsets that “help people with eye diseases.”

The XDG team is also working on “low-power processor technologies and next-generation batteries for smartphones,” which is one of the initial reasons the team was started. “Many of the chip and battery technologies developed by XDG have been shipping for years in iPhones, iPads, and Macs,” today’s report says.

Apple’s XDG group is said to have “vast financial resources and headroom to explore countless ideas.” What emerges next from the team remains to be seen.

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Naveen Kumar

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