The Apple Watch Series 4 It eclipsed the presentation of the new iPhone with its functions aimed at health and physical well-being. Its renewed design with fewer edges, its improved and more precise internal components and its ability to detect falls or anomalies in the heart rate of the user, thanks to the electrocardiogram (ECG) it incorporates, form the basis for a new period of maturity of the device and of growth in the industry of wearables.
Its first version was presented as a good watch that looked good and was built with good materials unlike watches built with plastic and technological gadget appearance offered by the competition, such as Pebble or the first Android Wear. Apple even launched an Edition line made with luxury materials and 18-carat gold. In addition, it was an application platform, a communication device and an assistant in health and well-being.
His shortcomings as an application platform were soon apparent, due to the simple replica of possibilities that he made of iPhone applications and the slowness of his processor. As a simple luxury product Due to the rapid obsolescence of the internal components, it also did not get much pull. However, the possibility of detecting, recording and studying the user's physical activity became the main attraction of the device, which was updated with this possibility in mind, improving the detection of different activities such as swimming and including a GPS chip.
The detection of symptoms of atrial fibrillation and the alertness of a too low heart rate extend the potential market for the company: in addition to young people, enthusiasts and athletes, the watch presents a special attraction for the elderly, more prone to suffer cardiovascular problems. Its approval for medical use by the Food and Drug Administration marks a before and after in the market for wearables, in addition to turning Apple Watch into something more than a complement to the iPhone.
"It is very promising to see that the possibility of performing an electrocardiogram on devices such as the Apple Watch is included," says Aritz Gil Ongay, a resident physician specializing in Cardiology at the Marqués de Valdecilla University Hospital. "The results of different studies regarding its sensitivity and specificity are encouraging, but it could become a double-edged sword because of the anxiety it could induce in some patients."
Having a history of detection and analysis of heart rhythm could facilitate the diagnosis and treatment that doctors can apply to cardiac arrhythmias. "Atrial fibrillation called paroxysmal is characterized precisely by appearing and disappearing continuously and unpredictably, often without the patient's own perception, so a tool on the wrist makes this diagnosis much easier, before confirming it to a doctor" , says Juan Díaz Castillo, a resident physician in Anesthesiology and Resuscitation at the Virgen Macarena University Hospital.
This "constant" control of the user's heart rate could imply a "significant increase in health costs", Gil warns, due to a possible increase in first consultations and reviews in low-risk patients. "Cost-effectiveness studies will have to be weighed."
Although it remains to be determined how a hypothetical approval and adoption of these devices can help a public health system such as Spain, the doctors consulted see the promise of safely collecting anonymized data from millions of users for large-scale studies. "to generate hypotheses for new studies or make recommendations at the population level".
Apple has already started working with insurance companies like Aetna, which could make the watch subsidize thousands of people. The entry of the manufacturer in a market as huge and important as the health will only distance, even more if possible, your product of a competition orphan of an operating system a day, an Android Wear increasingly forgotten by Google itself, or some kind of really revolutionary and useful function for users who justify the purchase. Faced with such weak competition, the company's goal will be to attract users of sports wristbands to a much more expensive device such as the Apple Watch with unique capabilities.
Apple wants to sell well-being with its new watch, and open a new consumer electronics market that puts it in the center. The AirPods headphones and the Apple Watch are the beginning of a market that can be extended widely in the future when the technology manages to be able to offer an excellent augmented reality experience in glasses or contact lenses, of which Apple already has multiple patents
The new "boom" of technology may not be marked by the speed of the processor or the opening of the lens mounted by the cameras of the devices, but by the use that can be given to artificial intelligence algorithms, the miniaturization of the components and creativity of companies to transform technological advances into functions that offer a direct impact on consumer welfare. At the moment, it can not be known if the adoption of these devices will be a real benefit for society or, on the contrary, they will become devices that generate unjustified anxiety.