Apple's hiring of former Segway robotics expert John Morrell has sparked rumours that Apple could be working on something "spectacular."

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Morrell's decision to leave his position as director at Yale's new Center for Engineering Innovation & Design to take up a role at Apple last year surprised some members of the robotics community, who say that Apple must be working on something "pretty fantastic" in order to have convinced Morrell to quit Yale.

Businessweek's Ashlee Vance suggests that Morrell could be working at Apple on a robot that transforms health care or a consumer 3D printer, or perhaps "devising something far more spectacular."

This "moonshot" product would aim to create a buzz like Google has done with its Google Glass and self-driving cars, and Microsoft did with the Kinect.


At Yale, Morrell had been overseeing research into robots that could climb stairs and open doors, and also investigating how humans interact with machines.

Doug Field, former chief technology officer at Segway, is now Apple's vice president of product design, and much of the rest of the original Segway team has also moved over to Apple. However, they're now working on Apple's flagship devices, Vance highlights, so Morrell could simply integrate into the company's current teams. According to Businessweek's source, Morrell works within the Mac software group at Apple.

"It would be a shame if a company with hundreds of all-stars, such as Morrell, isn't working on something more daring than the next gadget," Vance concludes.

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