Your Apple Watch Could Eventually Become a Complete BioMed Lab

Could augmented eyeglasses someday help us spot nasty viruses on public doorknobs? Could our wearables, in the form of an Apple Watch, someday provide a complete analysis of our blood? Predict a cold? Detect and diagnose a disease or illness? All that may not be far off.

Ceramic: More affordable than solid gold… 
The blood analysis laboratory of the future.

One of the features of modern tech is that projects that start off at a basic level and succeed almost always advance in ways that seem predictable and inevitable. This week, I want to focus on the practical, realtime benefits of a medical wearable that’s several generations beyond the current Apple Watch.

Here’s a good starting point via Jonny Evans. “Your Apple Watch is Going to Become Your Personal Physician.

Author Evans makes some great points, but I want to elaborate myself.

AI + Miniaturization = Future

I have noted recently that CBC blood tests that used to require sending blood to a distant lab with big machines can now be done in a doctor’s office on a machine the size of a large bread box in just a few minutes. How long until your Apple Watch is able to conduct a complete, non-invasive, blood analysis?

I mention this because I’ve read about a technique that allows for the measurement of blood sugar in a person’s sweat. If that can be done, there may be ways in the future, not yet envisioned, to get even more detailed information about the blood non-invasively. And, therefore, create a very thorough profile of a person’s health.

Early on, some of this technology may start off as larger equipment in the home. That equipment transmits information about blood measurements to our iPhone for analysis and integration into other health data. But, I think, eventually, the “blood lab” will move into the wearable itself.

Taking this a step further,  Siri or an IBM/Watson-like AI analysis of all that data could lead to the elimination of general practice physicians. Only when we need surgery would we have to visit a specialist. And that specialist will be a very precise, very competent AI robot.

Your Apple Watch tells you your pulse today, but a lot more is coming. “If we can dream it, we can do it.” (Walt Disney.)

Next page: The news debris for the week of January 16th. An Apple invasive maneuver.

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Adding to wab95’s comments, imagine Samsung wanted to release a self-driving vehicle or a robot, and wanted to beat Apple (or another manufacturer) to market. Would they wait until it could “be safely deployed, and will accommodate not simply inevitable lapses in human judgement, but will be reasonably hardened against malicious intent?” Regulation must be required to prevent safety flaws.

I’ll be relieved if robots and robotic cars are required to have a simple human override that disables them when necessary.

W. Abdullah Brooks, MD

John: Of the themes you’ve chosen for this week’s PD, I find two most intriguing, namely the Apple Watch as a medical device (shockingly), specifically a bio-med lab, and second the interplay between robotics and AI, specifically the capacity of a robot to refuse a human command. You, and other writers at TMO like Bryan Chaffin and Jeff Gamet have, on several occasions, addressed the topic of the Apple Watch and health, specifically the role of sensors to monitor specific health indicators, and several comments have followed, including from yours truly, outlining both specific technical issues and longterm, high level… Read more »


Why does it have to be non-invasive? I’d be OK with a sensor or two under my skin or, perhaps, even deeper, that my Watch can connect with (securely, of course) that can detect medical issues or provide data that is more accurate and reliable than hoping I sweat enough for my Watch to pick up. Well, maybe… until Google hacks it from a passing android phone and starts to send me emails about dialysis equipment that I may need down the road…


Mike Weasner

Regarding the iTunes fiasco, I see two scenarios for this to have happened. A similar problem has occurred with the new (improperly named) iOS TV app from Apple (which replaced the Video app). 1. Apple believes that users have purchased ALL their audio and video content FROM Apple. So, in order to verify that the audio or video you want to play is legally yours, Apple has to check that you have purchased it (from Apple). Of course, that requires an Internet connection. (The iOS TV app actually has the reverse problem. You have to disable Wi-Fi and Cell networking… Read more »


And of course measuring the oxygen level of your blood is easy – when the hemoglobin in your red blood cells has oxygen bound to it, it is distinguishable spectroscopically from hemoglobin that does not have oxygen bound to it. There are already commercial devices out there that exclusively perform this function, and integrating this tech into a watch should be relatively easy.


The fact that your perspiration has the same glucose concentration as your serum has been known for a long time, and the idea of developing a watch that monitors glucose concentrations non-invasively based on this was first pursued by a start-up co (Cygnus) in Redwood City CA many years ago. It was specifically targeted towards diabetics for obvious reasons – who wants to prick themselves with a lance to get enough blood to do a glucose test? I know all this because a good friend worked there – they even successfully launched a product called the Glucowatch. It has since… Read more »

Lee Dronick

Yeah, that iTunes thing would be a PR disaster.


I like the idea of a “lab on your wrist”. That would be the sort of thing that would get me to get an AppleWatch.

You mentioned the CBC Blood Test. Sorry but I immediately wondered why the Canadian Broadcasting Company needed blood tests.

Yes that iTunes thing would be bloody annoying. However I just can’t believe Apple would ship it like that. Even THEY have to know that sometimes people are offline. This had to be a beta glitch that won’t appear in the final product.