Health Monitoring Will Change the Face of Apple

Human body - health monitoring

The Particle Debris article of the week, this time, is actually a collection of articles that form an emerging picture of Apple.

ECG app on Apple Watch Series 4
Apple Watch Series 4 ECG feature.

According to CNBC, “Apple will disrupt the health sector as the iPhone did wireless, former CEO John Sculley says.

“I believe … [it will] go from curiosity to useful to indispensable,” Sculley said on “Squawk Alley.” “And indispensable means it’s got to do things that are significantly more capable in terms of health and preventative care than what we have today — with wearable devices or things [that] enable people to do more self-diagnosis, where the consumer can have a bigger role, just as they have in other industries.”

However, as I have predicted before, Apple will not have this industry to itself. For a glimpse into the industry momentum in health monitoring, see CNET’s: “Blood pressure watches, sleep tech and more: CES 2019 was all about health.

In order to Apple to be successful in health monitoring, it will have to gain more expertise in supercomputers, AI, medicine, and, gasp, partnerships in order to, as CNET says, “Monitor the data-rich body.”

This plays into Apple’s emphasis on services. However, hardware won’t go away. It’ll always be Apple’s hallmark. But services, especially in health, will demand that Apple work with a wider range of partners and even frenemies. Dan Moren at Macworld takes a look at this emerging necessity for Apple. “The future of Apple is playing well with others.

Products, services and partnerships will be changing fast and dramatically for Apple.

More Debris

Eye Spy on Your TV

• The temptation for home automation companies to spy on us is irresistible. From The Intercept, For Owners Of Amazon’s Ring Security Cameras, Strangers May Have Been Watching Too.

The “Smart Home” of the 21st century isn’t just supposed to be a monument to convenience, we’re told, but also to protection, a Tony Stark-like bubble of vigilant algorithms and internet-connected sensors working ceaselessly to watch over us. But for some who’ve welcomed in Amazon’s Ring security cameras, there have been more than just algorithms watching through the lens, according to sources alarmed by Ring’s dismal privacy practices.

It’s high time this comes to an end. Punitive Federal Law. Industry standards and certification groups. Strict licensing. Whatever it takes.

• But here’s a bit of good news. “AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile announce plans to stop selling your location data to outside companies amid growing pressure from federal lawmakers.

Android Authority has a great visual summary. “The robots of CES 2019.” Many of them look like portable trash cans on wheels with an iPad strapped to the top ::cough:: but Walker from UBTech looks interesting.

Walker robot from UBTech
Walker from UBTech. Image credit: Android Authority

• Apple’s project Marzipan is designed to allow iOS developers to port their apps to macOS. At Computerworld, Jonny Evans opines, “Where I do think we’ll see Marzipan see use is across the enterprise.” Check out his Appleholic column: “An enterprise take on Apple’s ‘Project Marzipan’.

• David Pogue, after eight years, writes his last column for Scientific American. He recaps: “What’s Changed Since My First Column for Scientific American.” While written about the tech industry as a whole, it contains lessons equally applicable to the Apple community. You’ll see what I mean as you read it.

TechCrunch writes: “Facebook is the new Crapware.Why?

… the scandal-beset social media behemoth has inked an unknown number of agreements with Android smartphone makers, mobile carriers and OSes around the world to not only pre-load Facebook’s eponymous app on hardware but render the software undeleteable….

But not the iPhone! Our Charlotte Henry will have more to say on this very soon.

• Finally, from Brian Bergstein at Medium comes this excellent report. “A Top Roboticist Says A.I. Will Not Conquer Humanity.” This is an extensive, thoughtful interview of an expert.

I called Rodney Brooks. Brooks, 64, is both a technological optimist and a realist. He’s the former head of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence lab at MIT and a co-founder of two robotics companies — iRobot, maker of the Roomba floor cleaners, and Rethink Robotics, which until recently made robots that could work closely with people. He also has written extensively about why A.I. is overhyped, and how people misunderstand the uneven pace of technology.

But consider. If the home automation dream of a “Tony Stark-like bubble of vigilant algorithms,” has turned into a spyware nightmare, what will family service robots be put up to?


Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week followed by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

One thought on “Health Monitoring Will Change the Face of Apple

  • John:

    With the lede, ‘Health monitoring will change the face of Apple’, how could I not comment? I’m delighted that this is now being openly addressed by TC, and that Apple are preparing to make some announcements this year. While I don’t pretend to have any inside information (I don’t), nor any hint at specific products that might be announced, there are two, possibly three current Apple technologies in both the product (hardware) and service categories that we should see prioritised in this regard, and remain priorities for the foreseeable future.

    There is empirical evidence, supported by precedent, that supports Sculley’s endorsement, reported by CNBC, of Cook’s proclamation that health services may be ‘Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind’, and to do to the healthcare industry what the iPhone did to the wireless and photography industries. That evidence is what CNET reported, namely that CES 2019 was all about health, with a 25% increase in health related exhibits, and 15% more floor space dedicated to health tech than the previous year. The last time we saw something that massive was when the industry got wind of Apple’s imminent releasing of the iPad. Everyone and their uncle suddenly had a ‘tablet’ that they were ‘on the verge’ of releasing (mostly vapour ware), but there were more ‘tablets’ at that year’s CES than in a pharmaceutical warehouse. That there was such a healthcare presence this year is proof that this is where the tech sector is headed, and that Apple are amongst the seriously committed.

    Back to product/service categories that will likely ascend. First is AI. We should anticipate a more health-capable Siri not only ensconced in the Apple Watch but platform wide, notably throughout iOS but also tvOS (more on that below). Moren correctly points out that Apple will need to play well with others, which while I concur, has more to do, in my opinion, with third party products and services ancillary to the health industry than to AI, but will involve AI as well. Specifically, many have commented not only on Siri’s limited healthcare capabilities but on the limited utility of the ECG in the AW, and that this and likely future health capabilities in the AW will not be FDA or EMA approved, merely ‘compliant’, and therefore not medically useful; perhaps even harmful. Nonsense. While Apple could go for an FDA approved AI and set of hardware, a more efficient model will be to partner with healthcare providers whose A.I. and kit are FDA approved. Siri need only to collate and transmit its amalgam of observations on an individual to the health provider’s AI that will run the findings through its algorithms and perhaps even hardware, and come back with an industry standard recommendation, enabling the two AIs to coordinate on an action plan (eg make an appointment), communicated to both the individual and their healthcare provider. This would address one of the leading causes of death worldwide, namely delays in health seeking and appropriate treatment. This alone would be a game changer. This approach has the added advantage of fast-tracking this product/service to consumer readiness, enabled by a private-private partnership.

    Second will be augmented (and virtual) reality. This is already taking off in medical education and practice, enabling students to better understand anatomy and physiology, as just two examples (eg how the healthy and unhealthy heart perform). In health practice, these 3D dynamic imaging products are used in the physician’s office to educate patients. Enabling this technology for consumers in coordination with their provider, not simply generically, but based on an individual’s own health data will revolutionise healthcare maintenance and prevention. Again, for specific health problems this will require partnering with the health industry; however a more health-enabled Siri will be able to support these products, and even respond by communicating directly with the provider’s A.I. for dynamic management and updates. It will further coordinate and expedite communication between health provider services if total body or at least multi-system capability is enabled (eg primary care, cardiologist and gynecologist). The possibilities and potential health impact of this technology are practically limitless.

    If there is to be a hat trick (a third), I suggest Apple TV. This technology could well work with both above technologies in health promotion and maintenance. Thus far TV has primarily been used for passive entertainment. A missing niche in streaming TV services is the health sector. Partnering with the health sector, Apple could fundamentally change that. Beyond generic infotainment, Siri could suggest, based on an individual’s most recent health status, specific selections that would both entertain and educate the viewer with relevant information and guidance for them, which without combing through a lengthy menu, they might never know about. This could even interact with AR. Another function may be three-way viewing of a TV programme, enabling a health professional to remotely view something along with a patient at home, perhaps stopping at key points to engage the patient, and getting biometric feedback on that patient in realtime via Siri (eg AW). Mental health services, notably for depression, spring to mind as ripe for such a service, but literally every other service as well. 5G technology might enable such multimodal realtime viewing and data monitoring.

    There are other possibilities not addressed here, but these are three broad categories that, in some form, I believe are most likely on the immediate horizon. Looking forward to what Apple announces later this year.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.