There has been a lot of hype in the media about how wearable tech will help you to live longer. At the forefront of this is the Apple iWatch, which the company characterizes as a comprehensive health and fitness device that will revolutionise personal fitness as well as the wider healthcare industry. All very bold claims – but are they well-founded, or just hype?
The iWatch was unveiled to an eager public in September, with heaps of promise and expectations, though tech fans will still need to wait until early 2015 to get their hands on one.
One of the iWatch’s key features will be to use existing health and fitness apps to monitor personal performance by tracking different levels of physical activity. The Fitness app tracks and records general fitness-related activity, such as calories burned and the number of steps taken, while the Workout app tracks physical activity during customised workouts and responds to your heart rate and movement.
Making sense of the data
So how does the iWatch make sense of the information received from the wearer – and how relevant and useful is this data for the user and health professionals?
Although it was initially rumoured that the iWatch would pack a great range of health-related sensors (more than ten), the reality is that the end version will only feature an LED heart-rate sensor which “along with an accelerometer and the GPS and Wi-Fi in your iPhone, will measure all kinds of physical movement”.
How wearable is the iWatch?
For health or fitness-related applications to work properly, wearable gadgets really need to be worn constantly. I expect that the slick design of the iWatch, which makes sporting it a fashion statement in itself, will mitigate against consumers “getting weary of wearing a wearable”.
What about mainstream appeal?
Although one could see the iWatch being worn by young and fitness-aware consumers, it is not clear how Apple will target the wider market and convince those who are not physically active to purchase one – and then wear it.