Apple is the biggest technology company in the world, valued at around $995 billion. Apple’s newest challenge, that has in fact been in the works for several years, is healthcare. The Apple Watch 4 has many new health-related features, and more are on the horizon.
Apple hasn’t made their advancements public yet, but Fast Company magazine reports that blood pressure, diabetes management, and sleep science are likely to be the company’s next big healthcare endeavors.
Apple’s devotion to healthcare
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook recently told CNBC, “… if you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, ‘What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind,’ it will be about health…”
Execs at Apple reportedly made a deal with Steve Job before his death that Apple would become a player in healthcare, after Jobs’ experience with illness and the healthcare system was less than ideal.
Rumors are that Apple has already hired many healthcare experts and doctors to develop and test new tech. In time, the Apple Watch could be a major way to manage your health.
Health challenges on Apple’s radar
With 75 million American adults suffering high blood pressure, this ailment is a central issue for healthcare.
Apple has already made advances in the realm of blood pressure management. The original Apple Watch featured an advanced heart rate sensor. The Apple Watch 4 features this plus an electrocardiogram (ECG). The newest Apple Watch also includes a fall detection feature.
In 2018, Apple received a patent for a blood pressure management system. It’s possible that the Apple Watch itself could act as a blood pressure cuff and monitor to check systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Diabetes becomes more prevalent around the world by the day. Globally, over 400 million people are living with diabetes. In the U.S., 23 million people have diabetes, and 7 million have it but do not realize it. If the Apple Watch were to delve into diabetes management, it could help millions of people.
While there are already many advances in diabetes technology by companies like Dexcom and Medtronic, Apple’s advances could add a huge benefit to the challenges facing diabetes today.
Apple already partners with Dexcom and One Drop to sync with their glucose monitoring systems.
The company could be developing ways to check blood sugar through a light sensor that provides a view into the bloodstream.
Apple purchased Finnish company Beddit, which focuses on sleep science, last year. It has been experimenting with ways to use their software to detect sleep patterns and gather information on sleep duration, heart rate, snoring, and more. The Apple Watch can’t stay charged long enough to collect all this data, so the challenge lies in the hardware.
One thing Apple has tried out is a sleep mask with sensors that detect sleep patterns.
Fitbit has already added sensors to their wearable devices that can measure oxygen in the blood, record sleep patterns, measure sleep duration and quality, and detect sleep apnea.
With Apple’s strong interest in healthcare and in retaining the privacy of its users, they have positioned themselves well to take on these major healthcare challenges for the future.
With tech advances happening so quickly, it won’t be long until the Apple Watch 4 can do much more to manage a person’s whole health.