With Apple’s latest iOS updates, it is getting evident that digital health is one of their top priorities moving ahead. There have been plenty startups that have been building up mHealth solutions but only few of them have managed to get real scale and the medical community behind them. Moving ahead from simple health wellness solutions to actual medical care is the real promise of mHealth. Apple is taking this very seriously with their Apple Watch and their Health app. With iOS 11.3 Apple is bringing in Health records to their app in collaboration with 12 healthcare clinics/hospitals.
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.
With smartphone addiction becoming a major theme of discussion around tech companies, it is interesting to see how Apple & Facebook are being blamed for this issue. Especially with children concerned, it is important for parents to set a limit on their phone usage and apps that they use. Apps like Facebook are built with feedback loops which lead to social FOMO. Today product designers are building apps with these feedback loops in mind, making people want to come back to their apps.
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?
Virtual and Augmented Reality have had a troubled existence so far. They come with wonderful prospects, bringing in the best of technology for consumers and businesses alike. They present a solid foundation for app developers to build specialised, interactive applications, and yet the growth rate isn’t really billowing out as most headset OEMs would have hoped for.
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.
With the Internet of Things maturing and the next generation low-latency, high bandwidth 5G networks nearing mass deployment, the data available from our lives is growing exponentially. The cost of sensors has been reducing thanks to increased adoption of wearables. With all this data out there, is it really adding value to our lives?