Finally, mainstream consumer technology has noticed the health of the consumer. Instead of computers just making us fatter, lazier, and more spoiled than ever before, there’s some pushback in the form of wearable health tech, and it looks like Apple might be the driving force here.
Last week they announced their HealthKit API to developers, which is a nerdy way of saying “Here, build things”. Healthkit is a set of frameworks to track, share, and communicate calorie consumption, sleep activity, blood glucose, blood oxygen levels, and other health metrics.
Any mobile iOS device (not AppleTV) will be able to act as your sensor array and primary tracking system. Macs will probably be able to track but not monitor, as they do not have the same mobile sensors as iOS devices. This is not revolutionary but evolutionary, as the iPod has been helping people track their jogging performance for almost a decade now, and of course GPS is used for tracking your travel by bike or foot. The health section on Apple’s App Store has been buzzing.
It gets really interesting when you factor in a possible new mobile iOS device – the iWatch. If you shrink down the key elements to the iPhone5 and put them behind a curved glass wristband, well then you might have something.
I think it’s technically possible beause most of the battery life in an iOS device is used to power the display. The smaller display requires a smaller battery. The removal of all ports except a lightning connector also saves a ton of space. Apple has spent their billions the last few years working on both curved glass and custom battery shaping tech. If the whole band is battery there’s plenty of space. Have you seen the size of some current watches? Plenty of volume if you can work in that rounded shape.
If Apple gets a touchscreen iOS watchband to market I think they could have a winning product. It’s all about the feature set – what it can and more importantly can’t do. Do you need your “cloud” in your watch? Do you need the full internet? Do you need wifi, 3G, etc?
Perhaps Apple will say no. Your watch should tell the time and help monitor your body metrics, at least version 1. Maybe if it’s within bluetooth range of a trusted device it can sync or use internet, I don’t know. Perhaps they cram those radios into it, we will just have to wait and see. I know Apple has been combining and reducing the size of their various mobile radios.
I also know my life could use a simple sleep tracker, calorie counter, exercise tracker, and electronic medical record holder that also knew my schedule, my contacts, and my habits. These apps exist as stand-alone concepts, but each one has to be configured to your liking and then your data is not shared with any other systems.
The Healthkit API could finally force the sharing of this data, both for personal goal encouragement and for medical professionals tasked with providing you care.
(BTW – This weekend I saw a Samsung ad saying ‘the future is here now’ with their smart-watch prominently displayed. Apple could counter with an ad that shows their smart-watch doing various things with the tagline ‘our future works’ ;-))