Apple has big ambitions in expanding vital sign monitoring, continuing hiring spree

Posted:
in Apple Watch
Media lit up on Tuesday afternoon following a speculative report that Apple was starting work on a new chip to facilitate user health data collection. But the project is neither new, nor particularly surprising.




The report, published by CNBC cites recent job postings by Apple, and attempts to glean future product specifics from the listings. Three listings are specified by the publication, and are claimed to point to a new chip family developed in-house.

"We are looking for sensor ASIC architects to help develop ASICs for new sensors and sensing systems for future Apple products," says the July 10 job posting cited by CNBC. "We have openings for analog as well as digital ASIC architects."

Other listings that are cited by the report are equally vague, and are looking for engineers to "develop health, wellness, and fitness sensors."

Apple's heart rate sensor on the Apple Watch is presently optical, and it isn't a big leap of faith to assume that Apple wants to evolve not just the sensor, but the silicon controlling and interpreting that data, in future products.

Not a big surprise

Apple has invested heavily in the Apple Watch, and healthcare initiatives surrounding it.

In 2014, Apple patented headphones loaded with sensors, many optical, to keep tabs on a user's health. To fulfill that goal, the company hired Marcelo Malini Lamego that same year, an expert on optical monitoring of the user's blood stream.

Lamego's work prior to being hired at Apple measured total hemoglobin, oxygen content, carboxyhemoglobin, methemoglobin, and much more in optical, non-invasive sensors. As designed, The "Rainbow Technology" platform uses more than seven wavelengths of light to acquire blood constituent data based on light absorption.

The same concept popped up with the AirPods in a filing from 2017. Both the 2017 and 2014 filings point to a much longer term effort to enhance healthcare data collection, and certainly not a newly spawned effort.

At present, there is a Broadcom chip bridging the sensor in the Apple Watch. it is only logical that Apple would seek its own silicon to control this, in much the same way it developed its own GPU for the iPhone and iPad, may move to its own power controllers, and might even shove out Intel on the Mac.

Apple has had calls out for ASIC designers nearly constantly for the last decade, so Apple looking for a chip designer is neither new, nor particularly noteworthy. It has also been seeking, and hiring, experts in healthcare for over a decade, more so since 2012.

So, it is possible, and even likely, that Apple is indeed working on its own chip to enhance user vital signs collection. But, the effort has likely been going on for some time, in much the same way that the W1 chip had been in the works for years prior to being unveiled in the AirPods.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,027member
    This rainbow technology using seven bands of light sounds very cool, would be a huge leap up from competitors with just green or red heart rate trackers. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 14
    claire1claire1 Posts: 494unconfirmed, member
    If you thought Apple Watch was selling well now, wait until these health sensors appear.
    SpamSandwichStrangeDayswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 14
    kkqd1337kkqd1337 Posts: 186member
    Number 1 priority has to be making it thinner. I don’t even care if it’s the tinnest available, I still look at the iWatch and think it’s a massive fat ugly square.
  • Reply 4 of 14
    kkqd1337 said:
    Number 1 priority has to be making it thinner. I don’t even care if it’s the tinnest available, I still look at the iWatch and think it’s a massive fat ugly square.
    I don't have an iWatch. I do have an Apple Watch, though.  :D
    iantimmy123StrangeDaysGeorgeBMacwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 14
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 1,014member
    I love the current Apple Watch thickness.
    Apple should optimize the current form factor , by giving better battery life & better processors & sensors.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 14
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    Apple's customer base is aging, so it's probably a good idea to increase marketing to the seniors. They have money, and they like how Apple products are so easy to use.
    retired4good
  • Reply 7 of 14
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,096member
    kkqd1337 said:
    Number 1 priority has to be making it thinner. I don’t even care if it’s the tinnest available, I still look at the iWatch and think it’s a massive fat ugly square.
    There is no product with that name. The Apple Watch, however, isn't very fat. It's thinner than many fashionable mens watches these days. It's thinner than the hockey pucks by Samsung. I have a nice leather strap and it gets compliments as attractive (especially my stainless steel one, tho its a Series 0 and too slow now compared to the Series 3).

    It looked much larger in pictures and videos than IRL, in my opinion.

    I'm sure things will get smaller in time, but right now that isn't the #1 priority.
    edited August 2018 brucemcwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 8 of 14
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 669member
    kkqd1337 said:
    Number 1 priority has to be making it thinner. I don’t even care if it’s the tinnest available, I still look at the iWatch and think it’s a massive fat ugly square.
    Oh, boy...dont buy one. I’m sure it won’t matter to Apple. Maybe there’s a pc watch available—better yet—one from Samsung. 
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 14
    kkqd1337 said:
    Number 1 priority has to be making it thinner. I don’t even care if it’s the tinnest available, I still look at the iWatch and think it’s a massive fat ugly square.
    There is always that one person..,,always
    GeorgeBMacbrucemcStrangeDayswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 10 of 14
    kkqd1337 said:
    Number 1 priority has to be making it thinner. I don’t even care if it’s the tinnest available, I still look at the iWatch and think it’s a massive fat ugly square.
    There is no product with that name. The Apple Watch, however, isn't very fat. It's thinner than many fashionable mens watches these days. It's thinner than the hockey pucks by Samsung. I have a nice leather strap and it gets compliments as attractive (especially my stainless steel one, tho its a Series 0 and too slow now compared to the Series 3).

    It looked much larger in pictures and videos than IRL, in my opinion.

    I'm sure things will get smaller in time, but right now that isn't the #1 priority.
    Just seeing how massive is the latest Samsung Galaxy Watch (or whatever they're calling it this year to best ape Apple's naming schemes) made me laugh. Samsung is idiotic and they are unapologetic about it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 14
    mac_dog said:
    kkqd1337 said:
    Number 1 priority has to be making it thinner. I don’t even care if it’s the tinnest available, I still look at the iWatch and think it’s a massive fat ugly square.
    Oh, boy...dont buy one. I’m sure it won’t matter to Apple. Maybe there’s a pc watch available—better yet—one from Samsung. 
    Samsung Watch are even bigger & thicker. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 14
    19831983 Posts: 1,158member
    Good stuff! Health monitoring seems to be a great growth area for Apple. And I reckon it was Tim Cook that decided this to be a priority for development. Even if he left Apple tomorrow, I believe this would be his legacy, as well as captaining Apple’s huge growth over the last 7 years or so. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 14
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,154member
    There is enormous potential here:   Not only to help our DiseaseCare system spot things it can treat (like high blood pressure), but to facilitate athletics.   Right now athlete's can only monitor heart rate.  But, for endurance athletes measuring (de)hydration, energy/glucose levels, lactate levels, O2 saturation, body temperature, etc. could revolutionize those sports....

    It is common for endurance athletes to "bonk" or "hit the wall".  Currently it is managed via guesses on when and how much to hydrate and take in energy, etc....  But, effective monitoring of the factors that cause that could change things drastically.

    Likewise, one of the most critical factors in medical management of long distance (marathon) races is body temperature.  The last year I worked with the Pittsburgh Marathon medical team we had over a dozen runners come in with body temperature over 110 degrees Fahrenheit -- literally enough to kill them  (fortunately all are still alive and well due to the excellent care they received).

    But these are all wide open areas for Apple to exploit and make this world a better place.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 14
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,520member
    1983 said:
    Good stuff! Health monitoring seems to be a great growth area for Apple. And I reckon it was Tim Cook that decided this to be a priority for development. Even if he left Apple tomorrow, I believe this would be his legacy, as well as captaining Apple’s huge growth over the last 7 years or so. 
    I agree.  I already feel safer with the Apple Watch just due to the 911 emergency calling feature.  It has saved a few lives already (those trapped in accident or injured and not able reach phone), and when I am working outside with chainsaws and the like it gives just a bit more peace of mind.  The HR monitor is already helping uncover a few issues for people.  Just wait until the heart arrhythmia studies are done and a future AW could detect more cardiac conditions.

    That doesn't even get into other areas that may be possible with "smart bands".

    While the competition goes around looking into cheap smart speakers other manner of digital junk, Apple is quietly working to enter one of the largest markets in the world...
    GeorgeBMacStrangeDayswatto_cobraretired4good
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