As has been recently reported, Apple appears to be planning an extensive expansion into the health and fitness market and it looks like wearables may be a key part of that effort. However, the latest rumors suggest that Apple’s new wearable devices may not be only in the form expected by many, the iWatch, but rather could come along as accessories to be used with existing devices like the iPhone 5s which already has a dedicated processor intended to measure the activity of its users. The capability is already being utilized by some users through apps like that from the ever-popular FitBit.
Apple reportedly recently patented headphones that contain sensors capable of measuring heart rate and temperature. While that is no guarantee that the product will ever actually become a mass-market reality, it may be an indicator of the direction Apple is going as it makes its foray further into the health and fitness market. Accessories such as these would add on to the existing capability of Apple devices, rather than duplicating functions that devices are already capable of, as an iWatch might.
Wearables were a hot item at this year’s consumer electronics show (CES) in Las Vegas, but are by no means essential to daily life for most at this point. Experts say that Apple is wise to focus on the health and fitness applications of such devices as that is the most ready market for them at this point.
The latest Apple wearables rumors are consistent with previous reports about what may be expected from the Cupertino tech giant. Apple CEO Tim Cook said in 2012 that the wearable market was “ripe for exploration,” while also praising the Nike FuelBand. Since then the company has hired several “small device, fitness, and medical experts” over the course of the past several months. It is believed that these experts have been working on specific health sensors to monitor the bodies of Apple users.
Fuel was added to the rumors that Apple is taking on health and fitness earlier this year when it was reported that several top Apple executives met with the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA meeting is suspected to have been held either as an attempt to expedite the approval of the rumored “Healthbook” app or as an opportunity for Apple to discuss “a new generation of medical devices” with the public health agency.
The Healthbook app reportedly in development at Apple is rumored to have the capability of storing information about a user’s health including blood pressure, heart rate, weight and hydration levels in order to assist them in meeting fitness goals and in maintaining good health. It is also said that it may be capable of measuring calories burned during activity, steps taken, and distances traveled and may even offer the option of alerting users taking prescription medications as to when it is time to take their dose.
As rumors of the iWatch and other wearables persist, Apple aficionados are eager to see whether the next big thing from their favorite tech company will come forth as what is expected, or something completely new.
By Michele Wessel