Bill Athas dead and obituary, Secretive Exploratory Design Group death

In the enigmatic realm of Apple, renowned for its impenetrable veil of secrecy surrounding forthcoming products, the Discovery Design Group stands as an exemplar of clandestine operations.

As per a recent exposĂ© by Mark Gurman, this covert cadre constitutes the masterminds orchestrating the forthcoming innovation in stingless blood glucose tracking technology for the Apple Watch. However, their endeavors extend beyond this domain. In a manner akin to Alphabet Inc.’s “Moonshot Factory,” known as X, which played a pivotal role in the development of Waymo’s self-driving car technology, Google Glass, and the lofty Loon internet balloon, Apple’s clandestine organization, colloquially known as XDG within the company, is immersed in a multifaceted tapestry of projects that contribute significantly to the augmentation of existing Apple devices.

The origins of this team trace back several years, with the mantle of leadership being held by the venerable Bill Athas. Tragically, the technology world lost Bill Athas to an unforeseen demise late last year. His legacy, however, remains embedded in the annals of Apple’s history. Bill Athas earned the distinction of being one of the select few to occupy an engineering position at Apple, a testament to his technological brilliance, a sentiment shared by the late co-founder Steve Jobs and the current CEO, Tim Cook.

The XDG team finds its berth within Apple’s Hardware Technology Group and operates under the stewardship of Senior Vice President Johny Srouji. Their abode is Tantau 9, a building nestled just beyond the iconic spaceship-shaped confines of Apple Park.

In the wake of Bill Athas’s untimely passing, the reins of leadership within the XDG have been assumed by several of his trusted deputies, a coterie comprising eminent Apple engineers and scientists. Among them, Jeff Koller, Dave Simon, Heather Sullens, Bryan Raines, and Jared Zerbe have taken up the mantle. Koller, Simon, and Raines have been at the forefront of the glucose project, while Sullens and Zerbe have steered other divisions within this expansive collective.

The Discovery Design Group, akin to a startup ensconced within Apple’s behemoth, comprises a modest assembly of a few hundred individuals, predominantly composed of engineers and academics. This stands in stark contrast to the veritable legions engaged in Apple’s special projects group, diligently focused on the realm of self-driving cars, or the expansive contingent of over a thousand engineers within Apple’s Technology Development Group, dedicated to the evolution of mixed reality headsets.

In tandem with their glucose-related research, XDG is venturing into the frontiers of next-generation display technology, artificial intelligence, and augmenting the capabilities of AR/VR headsets, particularly with a focus on aiding individuals afflicted by ocular maladies. The team’s genesis traces back to Bill Athas’s leadership, originally converging to advance low-power processor technology and pioneer the development of next-generation smartphone batteries—a mission that endures as they tread into the future.

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