Apple Watch to introduce more extensive biometric health data-tracking
Apple is currently working on new biometric features for the Apple Watch, including a tool for blood pressure measurement and a thermometer to help with fertility planning, The Wall Street Journal writes.
The Apple Watch is already capable of measuring heartbeats to scan for health conditions, and in 2018 was officially classed as a medical device. While this can be insightful information for users, measuring heartbeats is also used as a means of biometric user identification. Last year for example, NASA began commercially licensing a new heartbeat biometric patent to enable developers and solutions integrators to offer the technology for applications like device or bank account access.
Multiple companies and industries have begun development on heart-focused tracking in recent years, though there are some privacy concerns on this type of data as researchers have suggested that biometric data collected by health-tracking wearables could be vulnerable to hacking. Key competition for Apple in this area is Fitbit, which also uses users’ heart rhythms measured by its wearables for signs of disorders, as well as Toronto-based Nymi, which provides companies with a platform to achieve zero-trust security principles and biometric authorization.
“Unified, secure platforms – built to inform patients’ decisions on health learning – will become the standard as the tolerance for lackluster digital healthcare experiences will only continue to narrow. It will be very interesting to see how this new level of insight will also help health systems understand coverage gaps and make further iterations to the next-generation telehealth experience,” says Terri Casterton, director of healthcare product and strategy at Bottle Rocket, a Dallas-based consultancy.
The planned fertility feature could be available as soon as next year, as the company plans to release the 7th generation watch in the coming weeks. Other features will include detecting sleep conditions, blood oxygen levels and diabetes, according to company documents.
Apple Watch brought the company $13 billion in sales revenue in 2020, and CEO Tim Cook has said the company’s healthcare plans will be its greatest contribution to society.