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New Report Tempers iWatch Expectations, Device May Have 'Simpler' Technological Capabilities

Apple's much-rumored iWatch has been depicted as a standalone device able to function as a typical smart watch and monitor everything from glucose to blood pressure, but a new report from Brian Dolan of MobiHealthNews (via NetworkWorld) suggests that the iWatch's actual functionality may be somewhat more simple, with Apple aiming to make the health-tracking experience more accessible to everyone.

In a report that covers existing rumors and predictions for Apple's iWatch, Dolan aggregates known information and adds a few tidbits from his own sources, which he says "have limited but direct knowledge of Apple's plans for the iWatch and Healthbook."

While rumors have indicated the iWatch may be a standalone device able to function without an iPhone, that may not be the case. Poised as a peripheral device, the iWatch may require connectivity to a smartphone for its full functionality.

iwatch-concept-nike
iWatch concept by Todd Hamilton

Throughout 2013, Apple made a number of health and sensor related hires for its iWatch, indicating the device could potentially track a wide range of health-related functions with advanced sensors, including glucose sensing and hydration levels.

Actual iWatch functionality may be somewhat more simple, however, as many of the hires are said to be focusing on making basic health-tracking functions more effective. Some of the hires' more exotic expertise, in fields like blood and glucose monitoring, may not make it into the iWatch.
A source tells us that the team Apple has assembled is intended to ensure that the health sensing capabilities of the device are efficacious. Some fitness tracking devices available today primarily give users feedback in the form of an arbitrary points system — like Nike Fuel. Apple will likely not do this, but instead focus on real metrics like calories. Having a team with such advanced pedigrees will help ensure Apple's device is accurate. Don't expect glucose sensing though.
Today's report confirms the existence of the Healthbook concept that was detailed in late January, but could not verify the app's rumored name. The app is said to serve as a repository for all health and fitness information and could integrate not only with the iWatch, but other health-tracking apps and devices on the market. It focuses on simple concepts like exercise, diet, sleep, stress, and medication adherence.

Apple's overall focus with the iWatch is said to be on the experience rather than the technology. With the iWatch and its accompanying health-related app, Apple aims to make health tracking "a mass market behavior" by increasing its mass market appeal and moving the concept beyond something that interests just "data-obsessed" people.

The report speculates that Apple's recent FDA meeting may have been about keeping the iWatch unregulated, which would inherently limit its ability to collect and analyze medical data and prevent it from collecting data from regulated medical devices, again pointing to a somewhat more simple device than previous rumors have suggested.

Information on the iWatch remains sketchy, but we may begin to get a clearer picture as we creep nearer to a release date. It is unknown when Apple plans to launch the iWatch, but in the fall alongside iOS 8 is a strong possibility.

Though Brian Dolan does not have an established track record for reporting rumors, he was the first to report on Apple's hiring of former Masimo Chief Medical Officer Michael O'Reilly.

Related roundup: iWatch

Top Rated Comments

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10 weeks ago
Simpler capabilities ... as in it only tells time.
Rating: 23 Positives
10 weeks ago
Come on, this is apple. iWatch 1 will just about tell the time. V2 will give us time zones and colours, V3 will bring an adjustable wriststrap while V4 will bring a camera...
Rating: 17 Positives
10 weeks ago
a watch, a health meter, a song player....iBand
Rating: 15 Positives
10 weeks ago
Why would anyone be surprised if it had "basic" functionality anyway? Apple's devices never really do anything "over the top". It's always practical, fluid and "cool".
Rating: 14 Positives
10 weeks ago
Are you trying to tell me it won't let me time-travel?! :eek:
Rating: 11 Positives
10 weeks ago
No way it wil work without an iPhone. That thing will be one big battery and the brain will be inside the iPhone.
Rating: 10 Positives
10 weeks ago
I keep seeing that same image of a bracelet with a screen. It looks cool, but I wonder if it clouds expectation of what the actual device will be. Time and again, we see speculation of devices that can't actually be made only to be disappointed at the reality.
Rating: 8 Positives
10 weeks ago

Glucose sensing seems a pointless feature anyway. Diabetics should have a meter around with them at most times and non-diabetics (by definition) don't need one at all. I still don't understand why this is a "must have feature" or even a reason for Google to incorporate into their contact lenses.


There are 400 million people with diabetes who would love a noninvasive way to measure glucose. Blood monitoring through skin is a breakthrough if deployed, because there are tons of use cases, not just diabetes.

An iWatch with the ability to measure blood, hydration, sleep patterns and quality, detect falls, etc., is a must have for many kinds of people, not to mention hypochondriacs, and folks who want insights into the quality of their lifestyles without expensive tests and visits to facilities. It also has implications for the relationships between doctors/hospitals with patients.

Steve Jobs in his Isaacson biography said, without anyone noticing amid the TV rumors, that the meeting of biology and technology was going to be the next big phase of tech. 9to5Mac reported that this iWatch project began late last decade, when Steve Jobs was still alive. This thing is no mere fitness tracker.
Rating: 7 Positives
10 weeks ago

Glucose sensing seems a pointless feature anyway. Diabetics should have a meter around with them at most times and non-diabetics (by definition) don't need one at all. I still don't understand why this is a "must have feature" or even a reason for Google to incorporate into their contact lenses.


I disagree. Current glucose monitoring is inconvenient and doesn't tell the whole story. Having a system to give data say every few minutes will lead to better diabetes control. For example, right now my roommate measures his blood sugar once on day on a typical day. He measures it right before breakfast and it is usually within the target range. He then eats and takes a long acting insulin. Well, today he was acting disoriented so I measured his blood sugar. It was on the high side. What is missing is data on a person's sugar level during the day. Sure he used to measure his sugar levels twice a day but they were within reason. Knowing the peaks and valleys of the sugar levels lets the Dr. know if he should be taking a short acting insulin in addition to the long acting insulin. Sure you have the A1C test but that is also a single data point versus measuring how the glucose concentration varies during the day.

It may be considered a medical device if glucose monitoring is added but having a continuous monitor offers a lot of benefits. As a monitor, how much more approval would it need versus the current poke and bleed monitors? The hurdle may be worth it. The iPhone is also a regulated device and Apple jumped into that market with some success.

edit: p.s. I'm not saying that glucose monitoring should be in every iWatch but it would be a great option for those who want it.
Rating: 6 Positives
10 weeks ago

Glucose sensing seems a pointless feature anyway. Diabetics should have a meter around with them at most times and non-diabetics (by definition) don't need one at all. I still don't understand why this is a "must have feature" or even a reason for Google to incorporate into their contact lenses.


Actually, glucose monitoring is only good if you are doing it regularly. Having something that is checking on a schedule might detect issues early so that you can take action before things get bad.

The big thing with glucose monitoring is that they can now do it with micro needles that don't require a finger stab.

While you get used to pricking your finger if you are diabetic, it's never pleasant.

If my "watch" could warn me of a problem, or produce a graph showing how my blood sugar changed throughout the day, it could really help me manage my diabetes. Although in my case as long as I take my meds I can kind of eat however I want.:p
Rating: 4 Positives

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