Will the iWatch be the next big medical device?

With the constant evolution of technology, there is always the possibility that a new device or technology will be the next best thing in the medical device world. While consumers were elated to hear that Apple would be joining the wearable technology ranks with the iWatch, the health-care industry is equally excited to learn that Apple may have medical uses in mind for the anticipated iWatch.

Over the past year, Apple has acquired at least six prominent biomedicine experts, mostly from the sensor technology field, according to Reuters. This expertise could allow the iWatch to monitor everything from blood-sugar levels to nutrition, which goes beyond what the fitness-oriented devices can currently offer. Some of these notable hires include Dr. Michael O’Reilly, the former chief medical officer of Masimo. He was integral to the company’s research into pulse oximetry, which measures the amount of oxygen in the blood. Another hire is Ravi Narasimhan, former vice president of Vital Connect, a Silicon Valley–based maker of wearable biosensors. Additionally, Roy J.E.M. Raymann led research into how devices can more accurately monitor temperature, hormone production, and circadian rhythms to boost sleep quality at Philips’ sleep laboratory. Hardware developer Nancy Dougherty, of San Francisco start-up Sano Intelligence, helped create one of the most sophisticated sensors yet, capable of tracking kidney and liver function, measuring electrolytes, and determining, in real time, the amount of sugar in the blood.

While much of the talk about what the iWatch may offer is mere speculation, Apple does have a reputation of revolutionizing current markets. A mobile health executive told Reuters that Apple has aspirations beyond wearable devices and is considering a full health and fitness services platform modeled on its apps store. While Apple will not comment on such claims, a medical iWatch could be a boon to the medical device community. This could go far beyond the rudimentary offerings of current wearable devices and provide medical professionals real insight into their patients’ vitals and much more.

 

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