The iWatch rumour mill turns once more, this time in a medical direction. Apple watchers have been scrutinising rumoured new Apple hires for clues about the features we can expect to see in the still unconfirmed iWatch device. iWatch could feature medical scanning and monitoring technology, if reports are correct.

Writing in some depth about the team that has been assembled to work on the mysterious iWatch project, 9to5Mac claims that staff from Authentec, the fingerprint scanning firm that Apple acquired 12 months ago, are applying their sensor tech expertise to create monitors for iWatch.

iWatch mockup illustration

It adds that employees from medical sensor companies AccuVein (a vein-mapping specialist), C8 MediSensors (which focuses on monitoring blood non-invasively) and Senseonics (known for biometric technology that measures glucose levels) have also been poached for the iWatch project. Apple is keeping its cards close to its chest, but it now has the resources to add sophisticated medical sensors to an iWatch device, enabling it to track pulse, heartrate, glucose levels and other vital data.

Related to health issues, there's also unconfirmed speculation that Apple has recruited celebrity fitness trainer Jay Blahnik, who worked on Fuel Band and other Nike fitness tech products. Blahnik hasn't commented on this rumour one way or the other, but appears to be back-pedalling: there were pointed comments on his website about having consulted with Apple in the past, but these have been removed since the rumour got going.

9to5Mac also astutely points out Apple boss Tim Cook's connection to the fitness monitoring market; Cook is a Nike director and reportedly keen on that firm's Fuel Band device. Apple VP of technologies Bob Mansfield has also been spotted at Apple HQ wearing a Nike Fuel Band.

iWatch medical sensor rumours: true or false?

On Wednesday I wrote an article about how little we actually know about the iWatch - including whether it even exists. And the truth is that we still don't know for sure what Apple is up to.

Furthermore, we've been writing biometric and medical sensor rumours about Apple devices for a long time; it's one of those intriguing rumours that won't die. The iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 were both supposed to have biometric technology built in, according to the rumour mongers. Apple fans love the idea of dramatic new hardware features - especially ones with the almost 'sci-fi' feel of a medical scanning device - but it's more Apple's style to add major new features to the software while evolving the hardware gradually.

Still, the Authentec acquisition and new hires are a strong hint about what Apple is working on behind the scenes, even if not everything it researches makes it as far as a product launch. And Tim Cook is known to admire Nike's Fuel Band. iWatch would an entirely new product category for Apple, too, so it would be more reasonable to hope for dramatically different hardware features.

Follow David Price on Twitter | Follow Macworld UK on Twitter

Related:

In defence of iWatch: stop criticising a product that doesn't exist yet

Which way Apple ticks on the iWatch will show how gutsy the firm remains

Apple iWatch & iGlass: can Cupertino convince people to wear computers?

iWatch is in demand, and Apple hasn't even made it yet

One third of consumers interested in buying an iWatch, survey finds

iOS plus inspired design equals awesome 'iWatch'