Another WWDC came to an end a couple of days back, and while iOS 12, watchOS 5 and macOS Mojave (Apple emphatically stated that there would be no hardware announcements) took the limelight, it was worth noting that the company is now taking digital wellness and augmented reality very seriously, with features such as Screen Time.
Surely, there’s an upper limit to the information that can be gleaned from one parameter?
Heart rate data, for all this time, has proven to be beneficial in providing data regarding a person’s blood flow and heart conditions. But then, there’s the work Cardiogram is doing. Through intensive heart rate tracking, which takes into account a neural network built around the heart rate data of millions of Apple Watch users, Cardiogram hopes to be able to diagnose and predict a host of conditions, just from heart rate data.
CES 2018 drew to a close a couple of weeks back, and the spotlight was on Artificial Intelligence, smart cars, and random gadgets which forced us to raise an eyebrow and ask, “Why even?”.
But more interestingly, the future of sports and fitness tech was showcased in the form of new sensors and trackers. Gamification and AI are definitely upping the ante as far as wearables and The Quantified Self is concerned. Connected fitness has some new players who are making some very impressive headlines, and embedded sensor tech is the biggest driver in this sector.
There are two ways wearables can truly evolve: one, by incorporating AI, and two, by becoming more non-obtrusive.
Wrist bands and smartwatches were (and still are) in vogue since 2014, but let’s face it – there’s only so much that OEMs and users can accomplish with a device on the wrist. It hinders user interaction with phones, might not create pathways for more seamless experiences, and is getting too common (to the point of being hackneyed, perhaps?).
So here’s the thing with wearables in general. When a new one is introduced, it comes with the prospects of new applications and improved use cases. In the consumer oriented space, things might seem to get boring after a while – a smart watch as a notifier might not really be worth it. In the health monitoring space however, things do seem to be a little more promising. But then, where do wearable cameras fit into the picture?
The FDA has just cleared Kardiaband by AliveCor, which is the first medical device accessory for the Apple Watch. Kardiaband records a medical-grade EKG as an Apple Watch strap and has an Apple Watch app providing a graph and data of the EKG. This is a leap ahead for wearables as we are moving beyond wellness applications into real medical ones. Before the Food and Drug Administration approved it in the US, it was being sold in Europe.
Reinventing the wheel isn’t always easy. The sentiment applies more so in the space of sensor tech, wherein the only advancements that can be made are more often in the efficiency of measurement, footprint reduction and more sensitive recording parameters.
But then, there’s also the concept of reinventing the applications of the wheel. And that’s what advancements in sensor technology are all about. Heart rate sensors have moved on from their avatar of simply measuring heart rate, to more advanced applications such as pointing out exactly when and why there was a spike in the heart rate.
All this being said, what’s new in the world of heart rate sensors? And is Apple making some headway in this regard?
We are less a week away from the launch of the new Apple Watch 3, on September 12th. Fitbit recently announced the Ionic smartwatch and Samsung moving into the fitness niche released the Gear Sport, Gear Fit 2 Pro, and Gear Icon X. With lots of new competition, on the other hand with a promising watchOS 4 update will the new Apple Watch be able to disrupt this market?