'Good Morning America' Goes Inside Apple's Secret Apple Watch Fitness Testing Lab

ABC News this morning revealed an exclusive behind-the-scenes video of Apple's testing facility for the upcoming Apple Watch, showing off dozens of Apple employees covered in various sensor-tracking technology used to gather data for the health and fitness areas of the wearable device. Apple executives Jeff Williams and Jay Blahnik accompanied ABC on a tour of the facility.

Employees of the company, from engineers to managers and developers, have volunteered to participate in the tests for nearly two years, not knowing of the reason behind the facility until recently. Wearing masks that measure changes in breathing and other various statistics, the volunteers were put through various workout regimens including rowing, yoga, and running, in order to collect data for the Watch.


“[The employees] knew they were testing something, but they didn't know it was for the Apple Watch,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of operations. “We hooked them up with all the masks and so forth, but we would put on an Apple Watch covered up.”

The lab even included "climate chambers", which allowed Apple to simulate varying environments, from hot to cold, without having to physically leave Apple headquarters for testing. The company did so anyway, visiting drastically different locations around the globe to put the Watch through the most strenuous environment testing they could.

“We have traveled to Alaska and gone to Dubai to really test Apple Watch in all those environments, but we also wanted to be able to have a controlled environment here where we could see those extremes,” said Jay Blahnik, Director of Fitness and Health technologies at Apple.

“I think we've amassed already what may be one of the world's largest pieces of data on fitness,” he said. “Our view is, we're just beginning. We think there's a lot to this fitness thing...the impact on health could be profound.”

Dr. Michael McConnell, a professor in cardiovascular medicine at Stanford Medicine, told ABC News the Apple Watch has great potential to drastically change the cardiovascular technology field. He points to the ease-of-use in Apple's product to take measurements and surveys, thanks to the help of Apple's new medical-focused ResearchKit as well as HealthKit, which would offer them "a new way to do medical research."

The pre-launch buzz surrounding the Apple Watch only continues to grow as the April 10 pre-order date, and official launch on April 24, draw closer. Most recently the wearable has been spotted in numerous fitness and fashion magazines, with third-party manufacturers announcing everything from charging stands to carrying cases to secondary battery options for the wrist-worn device.

The segment, which premiered earlier this morning on Good Morning America, is a small preview for a larger piece airing tonight on Nightline at 12:35 AM EST.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 6, watchOS 7
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

Top Rated Comments

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71 months ago
I am a freak. Gym never. Jog never, zero days a week.

Can't wait for my watch.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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71 months ago
Anyone who thinks the other smart watches out there like the Pebble are on the same level as the :apple:Watch is sorely mistaken.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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71 months ago

Yet a no time did they think to include GPS in the watch or make it waterproof, i.e. make it a useful sports watch that you can use away from your iPhone. Ah...

The Apple Watch was designed to serve as both a wrist-mounted extension to your iPhone as well as a fitness tracker - all while looking good rather than like some dorky geek toy, and with battery power to last all day.

Adding GPS would have likely killed the all day battery life, or would have required a larger case to accommodate a larger battery.

Making it more water resistant would have required a case designed with gaskets and o-rings around the display, the digital crown, the friends button, the speaker and microphone, and perhaps also the case back containing biometric sensors. Again, this would have made the watch bigger.

A watch without a day's worth of battery power or so bulky that it resembled an Android product would have failed. Good design is all about focusing on the most important goals and making difficult choices.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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71 months ago
Anxiously awaiting the Tag Heuer promotional videos where they proclaim how much fitness testing their watches endured.

We all know, however, that Samsung will shove a video on Youtube any day now that shows some disinterested folks using their newest wearable in a fitness type setting
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
71 months ago


However, I am not convinced that the Apple watch really does anything more than other equipment that exists and/or that can be more accurate. Perhaps I am wrong. I just don't see it right now.

The Apple Watch doesn't have to do more to be a success - the Apple Watch is just another way to do the same thing other equipment does, but making it more convenient.

For example, running with music - it's MUCH more convenient to use wireless earbuds and wear a watch than lugging an iPhone on your arm or in your pocket.

Looking at statistics during your run - much more convenient on a watch vs. pulling out a phone (which is difficult when running), or using a FitBit-type device where you can't see stats until you're connected to a computer when you're done.

It's up to the consumer if $350-$1000 is worth this convenience. There are many more.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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71 months ago
Why does broadcast news/breakfast/daytime television get things so factually incorrect?

They basically rolled Apple Watch, HealthKit and ResearchKit into one thing here.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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