iWatch concept. (Belm Designs)
If all the reports turn out to be true, Apple’s first wearable technology device could well be a wrist-worn virtual doctor rather than just a second screen for the iPhone.
In a note to investors seen by Apple Insider, Barclays analyst Blayne Curtis says the iWatch will be able to monitor the wearer’s exposure to potentially harmful UV light and therefore know when it’s time to reapply sunscreen or cover up completely. In February, Silicon Labs, a Texas-based tech company, became the first to successfully build a single-chip digital UV index sensor, and Curtis believes that they could well be integrated into the Apple iWatch.
“These chips measure UV exposure to aid those with elevated risk of sunburn or just a general concern about excessive sun exposure, and we believe they may be … appealing to OEMs looking to differentiate in a crowded market,” Curtis wrote.
Adding weight to these claims is the fact that the sensors are multipurpose. They can also track other health and vital signs and, since the beginning of 2014, the reports, leaks, and whispers surrounding the iWatch have been focused on health and well being rather than push notifications and being able to dictate emails.
It started in earnest in January with a report in The New York Times that senior Apple executives had met with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to discuss regulatory hurdles to launching a health-focused device.
Since then, sources in China have claimed that the iWatch will be able to monitor both heartrate and blood-oxygen levels and that Apple was even toying with the idea of applying optoelectronics in order to read the wearer’s blood glucose levels.
Meanwhile, in February, a story in the San Francisco Chronicle claimed that Apple was looking to create a device that can predict a medical emergency and that a team, headed by Tomlinson Holman, was “exploring ways to predict heart attacks by studying the sound blood makes at it flows through arteries.”
The iWatch is tipped to launch in September 2014, by which time the Moto 360 and LG G Watch, the first smartwatches running Google’s new wearable device-focused version of Android, will already be on sale.