The Apple Watch has long been a fashion accessory for everyone from tech lovers and fitness junkies, down to the everyday Apple users themselves. Throughout the years, the Apple Watch, and Apple itself, have evolved to better fit their consumer’s needs. Since its release in 2015, the watch has gone from a simple stainless steel wristband that could pair to the users iPhone via Bluetooth, to the Apple Watch Series 6 with its lightweight aluminum band and a large display capable of advanced tasks like monitoring heart rates, using built-in GPS, text messaging, and the ability to connect to a wireless network.
4 Ways Your Apple Watch Can Help You Manage Your Health
Perhaps the most significant advancements made in the world of the Apple watch were that of its health features. Ever since the first Apple watch was released, new series and upgrades surrounding the user’s health and well-being have been among the most popular. The Series 4 Apple watch included the addition of an electrical heart sensor (EKG), which allowed users to monitor their heart rate and would even alert the user if their heart became irregular.
It’s developments such as these that have made the Apple watch a staple of the health and wellness tech industry. In its newest upgrade, Series 6 which was released last September, Apple included a complete overhaul of the Health app and included features such as a blood oxygen level monitor. At a glance, it would appear that future series may delve into a deeper set of features to track the body’s inner workings.
The Apple Watch has long been a target for wearable healthcare tech that could help patients with certain health conditions such as type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In recent months, a partnership between Apple and a Californian wearable healthcare tech company, Rockley Photonics, has made it clear that Apple intends to bring their watch into the world of wearable healthcare devices.
Glucose Tracking Sensor Introduced by Apple and Rockley Photonics
In a long-awaited and heavily rumored development, newly uncovered arrangements with the sensor maker, Rockley Photonics, have given insight into the future of the Apple watch. Rockley’s recent filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) were made public earlier this year, which showed the company’s nearly $1.2 billion deal with Apple, subsequently making Apple the company’s largest customer.
This partnership could include long-rumored blood sugar readings from the wrist-worn gadget, as well as blood pressure measurements and hydration levels; all of which have been highly anticipated by frequent Apple watch users, as well as the health and wellness industry for years.
In a recent press release, Rockley Photonics said it expects to ‘depend on Apple’s business for a significant portion of its income for the foreseeable future, including revenue from development and delivery of new products to the tech giant.’ It also expects to see its silicon sensor chips begin to roll out in consumer devices in late 2022.
Rockley’s silicon sensors operate much like the current sensors built into the underside of the Apple Watch and other popular fitness bands. It includes the basic hardware necessary to track heartbeats, body temperature, and oxygen saturation; but the company has said it plans to turn its attention towards adding an advanced sensor package to log glucose levels. Along with this, the sensor could also potentially provide alerts for high blood alcohol content, carbon monoxide poisoning, or muscle lactate levels during workouts.
Apple has been actively searching for a way to use their watch to track glucose levels for years, and customers with diabetes could significantly benefit from such technology once made available.
For now, the two companies are still developing the technology, although it is unclear whether the device will receive a full FDA clearance as a medical device. Nonetheless, a wearable glucose-tracking watch could prove to be groundbreaking in the world of those with diabetes.
Apple’s Redesigned Health App
Along with their recently announced partnership and new technologies, Apple unveiled their new and improved Health app, which features a host of new functions and metrics aimed at improving the user’s health and well-being. Among the list are features such as the ability to create a medical ID in the app as well as third-party apps such as Medisafe and Dexcom G6.
This newly redesigned app is Apple’s way of breaking into the healthcare industry, and could revolutionize the way patients interact with their doctors, and makes it easier than ever to organize and access important health information.
Below is a list of newly added features to the health app, most of which can be paired with an Apple watch to increase the user’s experience.
The Apple Research app is perhaps one of the most innovative to join the Health app overhaul. With the new app, users can now ‘contribute to groundbreaking research studies simply by using [their] Apple Watch and iPhone.’ The app would operate using data collected from the user’s Health app on a volunteer basis, and subsequently, give that data to relevant studies.
From the app, users can browse studies from reputable organizations such as the American Heart Association and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Once a user selects a study to participate in, and the health criteria for that study is met, they’re admitted and are encouraged to go about their daily routines as their phone and watch collect and send health data relevant to their study.
Some of the studies users can participate in include the Apple Heart and Movement Study—a collaboration with the American Heart Association and Brigham and Women’s Hospital—which uses the volunteered data to explore the links between physical activity and heart health. According to Apple, ‘Using Apple Watch and iPhone, researchers can gain a better understanding of potential early warning signs to create interventions and products that will help us all lead longer, healthier, and more active lives.’
Apple says that the Research app was designed with the user’s privacy in mind, and says data submitted to any study will be encrypted and ‘stored securely in a system within Apple that is designed to meet the technical safeguard requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.’
Sleep tracking has long been something that people everywhere have become infatuated with. Popular fitness bands such as the Fitbit and Apple watch have long been able to track sleep, however, the new Health app overhaul by Apple has made managing one’s sleep much more effective.
The new Health app gives users a wide array of tools to help prioritize their sleep. Using their watch, users can manage their sleep schedule, create a pre-bedtime routine, and even set sleep goals all while monitoring their sleep.
The new operating system, watchOS 7, released last June, also allows users to set multiple sleep schedules; for example, someone who works more than one job can set two schedules for sleep, and their watch will notify them when they should start to ‘wind down’ to optimize their sleep.
Another major part of the newly redesigned Health app is the ability for users to incorporate data from third-party apps that are designed to promote health and well-being. The Health app will even recommend certain apps to users based on the data it collects. For example, a user who struggles to get enough sleep every night might be recommended to download an app such as Calm, which offers users guided meditations, sleep stories, and breathing exercises that can help promote a healthy night’s sleep.
Some of the most popular applications that can be paired with the new Health app are Medisafe, Dexcom G6, and Lose it!.
Medisafe is a free-to-download app that reminds an individual to take their medications based on a set schedule determined by the user, and can even check for potentially harmful interactions between certain medications. Medisafe can pair with an Apple watch, where it can send notifications about medications directly to the wristband.
Dexcom G6 is another free-to-download app that can connect to a user’s glucose monitor to give real-time readings of blood sugar levels. For individuals with type 1 or 2 diabetes, being able to view blood sugar levels is vital, and the ability to do so from a phone or watch can be extremely advantageous.
Lose it! is a calorie and nutrient tracking app that helps users eat healthily and lose weight. It is free to download and can be paired with an Apple watch to help optimize the user’s experience and quickly view goals and progress. Once downloaded, Lose it! uses data added to the user’s profile to help tailor a specific diet and nutrition plan.
Medical Records and Medical ID
With the new Health app, users are also able to view and consolidate their medical records right on their phones. These records can include medications, immunizations, lab results, and much more; which can all be accessed in one place. The Health app is also partnered with a growing list of thousands of institutions across multiple countries that support health records being kept on the Health app. This partnership also allows for users to get medical records sent directly to their Health app, as well as notifying the user when a new record becomes available.
Another major change to the Health app is the ability for users to create and keep a copy of their Medical ID on their iPhone. With this new development, users can create a backup Medical ID that can allow first responders to access critical medical information that may otherwise not be available in an emergency. The app also allows for its users to signify whether or not they are organ donors, which could help save countless lives.
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