Apple didn’t predict how important health-tracking tech would be to the Apple Watch, COO Jeff Williams said in an interview published over the weekend.
“It was very organic,” he said. “Most people think we had this major health initiative, well, we had some notions in the beginning but no idea where it would lead. And honestly, it’s a situation where we started pulling on threads and the more we pulled, the more we realised there’s such a huge opportunity for us to impact people with the information that’s on their wrist.”
Apple initially marketed the Apple Watch as being a fashion item that did some tech stuff. It invited fashion bloggers to its unveiling event, debuted it at Paris Fashion Week, and created the ultra-pricey Apple Watch Edition — aimed at the luxury crowd.
Apple Watch’s heart rate monitor
But something changed. The first Apple Watch had a heart rate monitor because it was a better way to have accurate step detection. However, it didn’t take long for Apple to realize what it had. Williams continued:
“The first letter that we got about it saving somebody’s life with just the heart rate monitor, we were surprised, because anybody can go watch the clock and get their heart rate. But then we started getting more and more and we realised we had a huge chance and maybe even an obligation to do more. That led us down the path to do everything including medically regulated apps. Health is such an important dimension.”
Today, Apple has doubled-down on the health capabilities of the Apple Watch with features like its ECG reader and more. A Stanford University study shows that the Apple Watch can be used to accurately identify atrial fibrillation. Three new studies will follow later this year. These will focus on menstrual cycles and gynaecological conditions, heart rate and mobility, and hearing.
Tim Cook has said that he thinks Apple’s focus on health will prove to be its lasting legacy.
Future Apple Watch health-focused glucose sensor:
Apple typically doesn’t comment on rumors about future devices. Williams doesn’t break with tradition. But he does express caution at the suggestion that a future Apple Watch could come with a glucose sensor:
“Non-invasive sensing of the human body is incredibly challenge. You mention glucose, people have been talking about non-invasive glucose sensing for decades. I read every year that somebody has a non-invasive glucose sensing monitor ready. And what I’ll tell you is, it’s hard enough detect glucose when you can access the interstitial fluid, it’s way harder to do it with photons. And so, of course, we will be interested in more sensors down the road.”