Rumored Apple hires from medical sensor field could hint at 'iWatch' capabilities

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Apple has allegedly hired a number of experts in the field non-intrusive medical sensors, ranging from vein mapping to glucose tracking, potentially revealing some of the company's interests in developing a wrist-worn smart accessory.

Wearable Device
AppleInsider was first to discover an Apple patent filing describing a watch design with flexible display.


Apple is rumored to have hired employees from companies such as AccuVein, C8 MediSensors, and Senseonics, a report published Thursday by 9to5Mac claims. Specifically, it was said that after the company C8 MediSensors went out of business, Apple "moved aggressively" to hire former directors and engineers from the company.

Prior to its closure, C8 MediSensors specialized in non-invasive sensors that could track substances inside the body, such as glucose levels.

The alleged hires align with what well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities indicated earlier this year about Apple's rumored "iWatch." According to Kuo, Apple's wrist-worn accessory will not be positioned as a time-telling device, but it will instead focus on offering secure user identification and advanced biometrics functionality.

With biometrics, an iWatch could better safeguard an owner from unwanted user access, while also providing advanced healthcare features. Current wrist-worn fitness trackers, such as the Nike FuelBand, already offer similar functionality with heart rate monitoring.

Cook himself has admitted to being a user of the FuelBand, and praised the device in an interview at the D11 conference in May. He also panned Google's head-worn Glass accessory, and suggested that the wrist might be a more interesting place for the future of wearable electronics.

"The whole sensor field is going to explode," Cook said. "It's a little all over the place right now. With the arc of time it will become clearer."

On the fitness front, Thursday's report also noted "unconfirmed whispers" that claim Apple has hired fitness consultant Jay Blahnik. He was previously a consultant on Nike's FuelBand and Kinect Training projects.

iWatch
Artist's rendition of purported Apple smartwatch. | Source: Yrving Torrealba


Beyond its expected integrated sensors, Apple's so-called "iWatch" is expected to be controlled by users with a small multi-touch display, not unlike the now-discontinued clip-on iPod nano model Apple offered years ago. It's alleged that Apple has put together a hardware and software "dream team" to pull the project together.

The company has even gone as far as to begin filing for ownership of "iWatch" trademarks in countries around the world ??a rare move for Apple, which is known for intense secrecy surrounding its internal projects.

In recent months, virtually every major player in the technology industry has been rumored to be working on their own smart watch. Products from Microsoft, Google, Samsung, and LG are said to be in the works, in addition to Sony's recently announced Sony SmartWatch 2, and currently-available options like the Pebble, MetaWatch, and I'm Watch.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    AI reporting 9to5Mac stories now (or again)....what gives?
  • Reply 2 of 29
    island hermitisland hermit Posts: 6,217member


    I hope they include a rectal thermometer.

     

  • Reply 3 of 29
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member
    This sounds a little like navel gazing to me though. It looks like a good product, but it also looks like something the execs at Apple would really like versus something that the average person would really like.

    Not everyone is fitness obsessed. Maybe this will actually move people to get healthier, but maybe it is just a product that most people won't want.
    Most people, especially in the US and UK for example, are fat and eat garbage. Most people don't exercise.
  • Reply 5 of 29
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    AI reporting 9to5Mac stories now (or again)....what gives?


     


    Well, it's like reading 9to5Mac, but with the asshole factor removed.  Works for me.

  • Reply 6 of 29
    island hermitisland hermit Posts: 6,217member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post



    This sounds a little like navel gazing to me though. It looks like a good product, but it also looks like something the execs at Apple would really like versus something that the average person would really like.



    Not everyone is fitness obsessed. Maybe this will actually move people to get healthier, but maybe it is just a product that most people won't want.

    Most people, especially in the US and UK for example, are fat and eat garbage. Most people don't exercise.




    " $500, fully subsidized with a plan! I said, 'That is the most expensive phone in the world, and it doesn't appeal to business customers because it doesn't have a keyboard, which makes it not a very good email machine'."

  • Reply 7 of 29
    More
    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/jay-blahnik/2/a1b/a37
    Hofmeister told how he believes former C8 employees could benefit Apple. “We spent a lot of time working on the technology for gathering data through skin and a lot of time dealing with the optical variance of skin,” he said. “Anybody who is going to be working on wearable biometric sensors would find the experience of C8 employees invaluable,” he added.
  • Reply 8 of 29
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    gazoobee wrote: »
    Well, it's like reading 9to5Mac, but with the asshole factor removed.  Works for me.
    Not crazy about the reporting but they do get their scoops. Perhaps why they think so highly of themselves.
  • Reply 9 of 29
    rcfarcfa Posts: 763member
    gazoobee wrote: »
    This sounds a little like navel gazing to me though. It looks like a good product, but it also looks like something the execs at Apple would really like versus something that the average person would really like.

    Not everyone is fitness obsessed. Maybe this will actually move people to get healthier, but maybe it is just a product that most people won't want.
    Most people, especially in the US and UK for example, are fat and eat garbage. Most people don't exercise.

    Because they are fat they get diabetes. Not only are traditional glucose level tracking methods painful, they also only allow the collection of a few data points per day, and are hard to capture and evaluate systematically.
    A prickless, blood free glucose sensor could essentially continuously graph glucose levels, in combination with other sensors relative to body activity, too.
    This would allow for better tracking of the individuals reaction to diabetes medication, insulin injections, etc.
    This could be a huge thing for millions with diabetes.
    Of course it would help athletes, too; but that would be the least important part if it.
  • Reply 10 of 29
    sumergosumergo Posts: 199member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rcfa View Post





    Because they are fat they get diabetes. Not only are traditional glucose level tracking methods painful, they also only allow the collection of a few data points per day, and are hard to capture and evaluate systematically.

    A prickless, blood free glucose sensor could essentially continuously graph glucose levels, in combination with other sensors relative to body activity, too.

    This would allow for better tracking of the individuals reaction to diabetes medication, insulin injections, etc.

    This could be a huge thing for millions with diabetes.

    Of course it would help athletes, too; but that would be the least important part if it.




    Agreed - this is Health 2.0.  Monitoring for incipient heart attacks, blood sugar levels . . .  At least this continuous surveillance will benefit the wearer.

  • Reply 11 of 29
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rcfa View Post





    Because they are fat they get diabetes. Not only are traditional glucose level tracking methods painful, they also only allow the collection of a few data points per day, and are hard to capture and evaluate systematically.

    A prickless, blood free glucose sensor could essentially continuously graph glucose levels, in combination with other sensors relative to body activity, too.

    This would allow for better tracking of the individuals reaction to diabetes medication, insulin injections, etc.

    This could be a huge thing for millions with diabetes.

    Of course it would help athletes, too; but that would be the least important part if it.


     


    Yeah, I'm hoping overall it would be a good thing and popular and actually work to make folks healthier too, I just worry that it's targeted at a small market (the health obsessed).  I can certainly see the upside, but what if it's ugly and you just don't want to wear it all the time?  Then the only folks that will wear it are those that need to for health reasons or those that are obsessed with that sort of thing.  


     


    I think it would have been a more popular idea if it was introduced back in the days when people still wore wrist watches a lot becuase then you're already wearing the watch, and the sensors are just gravy.  Now, they have to convince people to wear watches again first, then tell them it's a better watch.  


     


    We shall see I suppose. 

  • Reply 12 of 29


    I bet Apple is going to use Authentec's fingerprint sensor to not just scan fingerprints.



    Their tech has the ability to look under the skin as well.


    Imagine if the iWatch has this sensor under the band and can continuously monitor your vitals.


     


    I think Apple will keep working on this until they have a product that has an incredibly high value proposition.


    Imagine eating fast-food and a few minutes later getting an alert that your blood pressure is abnormally high.


    This kind of direct feedback could help people make better health choices and revolutionize medicine.

  • Reply 13 of 29
    quinneyquinney Posts: 2,525member
    rcfa wrote: »
    gazoobee wrote: »
    This sounds a little like navel gazing to me though. It looks like a good product, but it also looks like something the execs at Apple would really like versus something that the average person would really like.

    Not everyone is fitness obsessed. Maybe this will actually move people to get healthier, but maybe it is just a product that most people won't want.
    Most people, especially in the US and UK for example, are fat and eat garbage. Most people don't exercise.

    Because they are fat they get diabetes. Not only are traditional glucose level tracking methods painful, they also only allow the collection of a few data points per day, and are hard to capture and evaluate systematically.
    A prickless, blood free glucose sensor could essentially continuously graph glucose levels, in combination with other sensors relative to body activity, too.
    This would allow for better tracking of the individuals reaction to diabetes medication, insulin injections, etc.
    This could be a huge thing for millions with diabetes.
    Of course it would help athletes, too; but that would be the least important part if it.

    Excellent post. People wondering who would wear a "watch" should take note.
  • Reply 14 of 29
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    When Bob Mansfield retired and then the rumors came out that Cook convinced him to stay it was rumored (by Bloomberg I think) that he was interested in doing stuff in the healthcare space. Not surprised that his technologies group is involved with this project. I think Apple might just surprise us in this space. Everyone is thinking an iPod nano type watch, and most likely Apple is thinking different. ;)
  • Reply 15 of 29
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,106member
    Medical sensing hires + Fashion heavyweight hire... Discuss!
  • Reply 16 of 29
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,293member


    This could track Glucose levels, monitor your heart rate ( so a fitness club could give it to everybody working out in their club and read one a desktop or tablet device), it could warn you of over heating, time in the Sun, and send information to your health provider. Much more useful than something which just tells the time.

  • Reply 17 of 29
    blackbookblackbook Posts: 1,361member
    Medical sensing hires + Fashion heavyweight hire... Discuss!

    Medical sensing hires + Fashion heavyweight hire = Next revolutionary product!

    To all who think there is no market for a fitness band, check Nike fuel band sales!

    I see this devive as similar in approach to how Apple has promoted the iPod Nano as a device combining a great music player with the convenience of a Nike pedometer for working out.

    With the iWatch Apple will be combining a fitness and health band with a personal assistant.

    Add in notification center, Siri, and bluetooth MP3 playing and this device could easily be a slam dunk.

    What if it had NFC as well and could be used for quick payments and identification? This could be the device of the future.
  • Reply 18 of 29
    I hear Tim Cook is a health nut, so I wonder if this is a project he initiated? It would be nice to know that he's involved in product development to some degree, and not just an 'operations guy'.
  • Reply 19 of 29

    If these details are correct, the iWatch may become an important health & fitness device. But I think it's incorrect to think Apple is making just a fitness watch. I'm guessing they're aiming for wide appeal by providing fashionable design with hard and soft features (and good API) that give the watch vast utility.


     


    These new rumors have me excited about the iWatch for the first time.

  • Reply 20 of 29


    Apple isn't always first and arguably seldom first, but the funny thing to me is I know Samsung, Google (etc.) all read sites like AppleInsider in hopes of finding new info into upcoming products. Then they can race to pt that/those new features in their products and claim they were first.

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