Apple Fitness Sensors Everywhere: It’s More than the iWatch

| Analysis

HealthKit in iOS 8 offers the promise of a centralized system so iPhone owners can collect and track their own health and fitness data in a single place, and it gives other companies a common platform to feed information into. Apple will no doubt capitalize on that with the rumored iWatch as its first move into the fitness tracking market. But it doesn't seem likely the company will be content to stick to just our wrists, which opens the door for a whole line of wearable tech -- including versatile sensors that know what data to collect based on where they are on your body.

Apple's fitness sensors may be aimed at more than just your wristApple's fitness sensors may be aimed at more than just your wrist

HealthKit is a new feature in iOS 8 that acts as a sort of centralized gateway for health and fitness trackers to feed information to the iPhone. Once that data is safely tucked away, users can view it in iOS 8's Healthbook app and choose what information to share with their doctors or other health care providers. iOS 8 will ship this fall as a free update for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch and Apple is actively working on getting health care providers on board ahead of the official launch.

The rumored iWatch will reportedly include a laundry list of sensors for tracking fitness and health-related activities, which in and of itself is probably enough to give competitors cause for concern because it will likely track more data than other products -- and pack it all into a sleek looking design that ties in seamlessly with the iPhone. If Apple offers a device that tracks your daily steps, along with flights of stairs climbed, calories burned, heart rate, body mass index, sleep patterns, and more to give users a better picture of our overall health and fitness status, the iWatch has the potential to be a compelling alternative to other popular fitness trackers such as the Fitbit One, Fitbit Flex, Jawbone Up, and Withings Pulse.

The Flex, Up and Pulse all collect data from a single physical point on your body, and presumably the iWatch will, too. That data collection doesn't, however, need to be limited to one location and could be collected from sensors on our shoes, in our shirts, on our shorts, or most anyplace you can stick one on your body. Freeing the sensors from our wrists makes Apple's health and fitness data collection far more flexible, and the groundwork is already in place for the company to do just that.

Next up: Fitness Sensors Everywhere

[Some image elements courtesy Shutterstock]

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Many thanks for a truly enjoyable journey through new possibilities for fitness monitoring. Not only sensors, but soon smart clothing that can adapt to different situations, and even help save life, are in our future.

While few would fancy emulating the Borg (although you could do worse than Jeri Ryan’s Seven of Nine), sensors around our person will become commonplace in the not-so-distant future. The possibilities with these sensors will take us into territory whose implications we have yet to fully anticipate. My hope is that the more obvious lightening rods, like Google Glass, will stimulate those discussions as well as any needed regulatory actions to protect consumer privacy. In the main, however, the capacity of these to benefit and protect human life, I predict, will overwhelm the negative aspects of privacy invasion and theft, as has been the case with the vast majority of our technological progress.

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