Rumor: Apple working on 'smart bands' for Apple Watch to add new health tracking functions

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited August 2015
A new rumor claims that Apple will add capabilities to the Apple Watch, and sell upgrades without the need to buy an entirely new watch, in the form of "smart bands" that could launch as early as 2016.


Exposed Apple Watch diagnostics port, via iFixit.


Citing unnamed sources, Czech website Letem Svetem Applem reported on Friday that Apple is planning to announce new bands that will connect to the hidden data port on the Apple Watch and add new functionality to the wrist-worn device. Specifically, it was said that bands will add blood oxygen, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and body temperature sensors.

It was said that these sensors must be in the band anyhow and cannot be a part of the watch to give accurate readings. For example, a body temperature sensor would be affected by heat from the components inside the watch, and must be placed on the opposite end of the wrist.

The sources allegedly said that Apple is planning to launch its first sensor bands for the Apple Watch in early 2016. The company is said to be working on multiple smart bands that will be available in a variety of styles and configurations.

Apple is said to be cognizant of the fact that many consumers could be unlikely to purchase new watches every year. Smart band upgrades are allegedly the company's plan to continue hardware sales for legacy watches.

All current Apple Watch models include a "hidden" data port within one of the strap attachment grooves. It is a six-pin connector capable of transferring data and power to the device, but it is covered and not currently intended for use by end users.


Covered Apple Watch diagnostics port, via iFixit.


Because the diagnostics port is covered, a large question would be how Apple might allow users to access the port to work with smart bands. If the rumor is in fact accurate, it's possible that users might need to visit an Apple Store in order to have their smart band "installed" on their Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch was introduced in September of 2014, but didn't hit the market until April of this year. If the company sticks to its usual annual release cycle for products, it's likely that a major Apple Watch announcement won't come until next spring.

In the interim, the company is working on watchOS 2, a forthcoming software update that will enable native third-party apps on the Apple Watch. The update is scheduled to arrive this fall, and is currently available to developers in a beta form.

There were also rumors earlier this year that suggested Apple was working on different casing materials for the current Apple Watch design. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities suggested in March that Apple was planning to launch the new casings this fall, expanding the lineup beyond aluminum, stainless steel, and 18-karat gold.

Other materials that Apple could introduce include white gold, titanium, or even ceramic. Less common materials in the existing watch industry include carbon fiber, rubber, or custom creations from fine watchmakers like Rolex's "Rolesor" and Hublot's "Magic Gold."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 81

    Sounds ideal for something like a glucose monitor, which would be much more important to someone who's diabetic. No sense putting all the sensors in the Watch itself when certain sensors make more sense for certain people.

  • Reply 2 of 81

    A highly plausible rumor, and a brilliant move by Apple.

  • Reply 3 of 81
    Sounds ideal for something like a glucose monitor, which would be much more important to someone who's diabetic. No sense putting all the sensors in the Watch itself when certain sensors make more sense for certain people.

    Totally want to see that offered. Hurry up, Apple! Widen the distance between Apple Watch and lesser wearables!
  • Reply 4 of 81
    But but but a Rolex can tell you the time at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Surely that's more useful than giving you blood glucose readings¡
  • Reply 5 of 81
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

     

    A highly plausible rumor, and a brilliant move by Apple.


    Agreed. Brilliant.

     

    Why can't I ever think of something like that? :)

     

    Best

  • Reply 6 of 81
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,783member

    But what will happen to all those startups making charging bands, battery bands, etc. when Apple proceeds with making all of these available as they had planned all along?

  • Reply 7 of 81
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

     

    Sounds ideal for something like a glucose monitor, which would be much more important to someone who's diabetic. No sense putting all the sensors in the Watch itself when certain sensors make more sense for certain people.




    There is a wrist worn device called a GlucoWatch which does measure blood sugar non-invasively, but it is a prescription device. Measuring glucose through the skin is not usually intended as a replacement for finger stick meters. It is used mostly to chart trends. For the Watch to measure glucose and also blood pressure, one would have to keep the wristband quite tight which could be uncomfortable for the fashion or casual user. Not just a nice extra feature but something for people who have a serious medical condition.

  • Reply 8 of 81
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,291member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     



    There is a wrist worn device called a GlucoWatch which does measure blood sugar non-invasively, but it is a prescription device. Measuring glucose through the skin is not usually intended as a replacement for finger stick meters. It is used mostly to chart trends. For the Watch to measure glucose and also blood pressure, one would have to keep the wristband quite tight which could be uncomfortable for the fashion or casual user. Not just a nice extra feature but something for people who have a serious medical condition.


    I read there is a company working on an implantable device for blood glucose monitoring. Yes, it would require a doctor to install, but preferable to finger sticks.

  • Reply 9 of 81
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,291member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

     

    A highly plausible rumor, and a brilliant move by Apple.


    Concur.

  • Reply 10 of 81
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    A highly plausible rumor, and a brilliant move by Apple.

    Yes yes yes. Its not like the software is doing anything that intense that it would need a new SiP every year. I wonder if a smart band could provide GPS? Or does that need to be inside the watch body?
  • Reply 11 of 81
    19831983 Posts: 1,158member

    Once I heard about the hidden 'diagnostics' port I had a feeling Apple would use it to take the route of add-on specialised straps for various purposes. This was a good future-proofing move on Apple's part.

  • Reply 12 of 81
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,783member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by 1983 View Post

     

    Once I heard about the hidden 'diagnostics' port I had a feeling Apple would use it to take the route of add-on specialised straps for various purposes. This port was a good future-proofing move on Apple's part.




    Some on this site always think Apple is stupid for not doing the obvious (in their opinion). These types went on and on about how the watch was not future proof and who would spend that kind of money only to fall behind with the next iteration. Well who’s stupid now?

  • Reply 13 of 81

    That would be....smart.

  • Reply 14 of 81

    Put an NFC antenna in a band so I can use Apple Pay without rotating my wrist (and hiding the screen's confirmation).

  • Reply 15 of 81
    More fanciful, unrealistic rubbish rumors. It must be Friday!
  • Reply 16 of 81
    A highly plausible rumor, and a brilliant move by Apple.

    I don't find it remotely plausible. A band that can be replaced by users will not have access to that data port. This rumor is a bust.
  • Reply 17 of 81
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    More fanciful, unrealistic rubbish rumors. It must be Friday!
    I don't find it remotely plausible. A band that can be replaced by users will not have access to that data port. This rumor is a bust.

    Can you explain that? I could definitely see that band being used in conjunction with the data port.
  • Reply 18 of 81
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    lkrupp wrote: »

    Some on this site always think Apple is stupid for not doing the obvious (in their opinion). These types went on and on about how the watch was not future proof and who would spend that kind of money only to fall behind with the next iteration. Well who’s stupid now?

    Apple didn't hire all these people from the medical field just to give us a heart rate sensor.
  • Reply 19 of 81
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,278member
    mstone wrote: »

    There is a wrist worn device called a GlucoWatch which does measure blood sugar non-invasively, but it is a prescription device. Measuring glucose through the skin is not usually intended as a replacement for finger stick meters. It is used mostly to chart trends. For the Watch to measure glucose and also blood pressure, one would have to keep the wristband quite tight which could be uncomfortable for the fashion or casual user. Not just a nice extra feature but something for people who have a serious medical condition.
    I would expect wristbands that serve specific health monitoring functions to be an Apple interest rather than using them in concert with the Apple Watch. I would think it would be less expensive as well as allow for longer continuous health tracking without needing to be removed for recharging, important if the health condition needs constant monitoring.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-23/google-developing-health-tracking-wristband-for-health-research
  • Reply 20 of 81
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    I don't find it remotely plausible. A band that can be replaced by users will not have access to that data port. This rumor is a bust.

    Wouldn't Apple control what is able to access the data port and what it can do?
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