Apple’s path to health care is a different path from its original fashion goal, but the linchpin has led to the prospect of future models loaded with even more fitness-related features
Apple has received praise for helping many people take better care of themselves, as well as potentially saving lives in the process. Frequent reports have surfaced over the years covering events where people have been alerted to potential problems, such as heart problems via the ECG feature, prompting users to seek advice from healthcare professionals.
However, this goal focused on Apple’s health care was not its original intention, recalls a report on the future of the portable device by Wired.
“As a business, we never sat down and said,” Let’s do health care, “said Apple vice president Sumbul Desai, who joined Apple’s health team in 2017 “Our health journey started with the Health app, and it was really our first step.” Desai suggests, rather than Apple.
A change in the use of the optical heart rate sensor in the Apple Series 3 to more accurately measure heart rate is credited by Desai as the main reason behind Apple’s linchpin.
“We placed the PPG sensor on to make sure we were accurate in our calorie calculations because, using the heart rate at the top, we can control the accuracy of the calorie calculations, this is the right way to do it” , admits Desai. “We never intended to measure the heart rate.”
Feedback to the team in 2017 regarding how Apple helped uncover undiagnosed medical conditions led to a focus shift and the development of new features. These included elevated heart rate notification, development of irregular heartbeat notifications, and an ECG in the Apple Series 4.
Changes to the operating system have also added improvements to what people can monitor, including menstrual cycle tracking and the Noise app. Clinical trials have also taken place, focusing on Apple and the data it collects.
The ongoing development of the Apple and its capabilities has led to many rumors that it may measure glucose levels in a user in the future, as well as oxygenation and blood pressure levels. When combined, these could provide a better understanding of general fitness and the human body, as well as guide doctors and health professionals on the underlying conditions of a user.
For example, the blood pressure monitoring feature, as revealed in a patent application in May, could allow users to test their levels without the need for a cuff or other separate device. Blood pressure measurement could be used to determine cases of hypertension that could indicate health problems.
An update this fall could include a series of mental health features and a blood oxygen sensor to detect if the user is hyperventilating, which, combined with a high heart rate, could warn that a user experiences a panic attack. By monitoring these items over the long term, it is even possible that Apple will warn users in advance of an impending panic attack.
Anxiety monitoring and sleep tracking have been tilted to be included in Apple Series 6 and OS 7. A children’s mode could allow Apple to be worn by the youngest, with modified activity rings that measure data points more appropriate for their age, rather than the current adult-centered ring system.
There has even been the proposal of a detection system when the user risks drowning and automatically calling for help.
With Apple patent patches continuing to point to potential future features, as well as other leaks and rumors of upcoming additions, it’s clear that Apple has a lot planned for its wearable device. Other filings have also suggested that other products could benefit from similar health tracking features, like AirPods with additional sensors, which gives Apple another avenue to go down its health trail.
The big question is which direction he wants to go.