Apple’s latest wearable marks a change in how people are monitoring their health.
When Apple launched the original Apple Watch in 2015, they did so with their eyes set firmly on the fashion market. Forgoing the tech market, of which they had dominated with the likes of the iPod and iPhone; Apple thought their new product more in keeping with traditional fashion accessories.
This was never more evident than in the Apple Watch Edition. Made out of 18-karat gold, the watch had a starting price of £8,000 and highlighted Apple’s insistence towards marketing the device as a potential high-end fashion accessory.
The company’s recent reveal of the Watch Series 2 however, took a different approach. The original device, whilst having a broader intention, utilised fitness features such as a heartrate monitor, an activity app and calorie counters. Chief executive officer Tim Cook, even went so far as to describe the Watch as a “comprehensive fitness device”. With this new generational upgrade, the company have finally realised the potential fitness applications of the Watch Series.
The Watch Series 2 has been marketed as a serious fitness device and puts Apple as a major competitor within the digital health market. Fitbit’s stock, Apple’s biggest competitor within the wearables market, fell by 2% according to investors when the Watch Series 2 was announced.
Apple’s dedication to fitness is made obvious by the features of the Watch Series 2. The device is water resistant to 50 meters and includes two new workout options for swimmers, pool and open water. The Watch Series 2 is able to count laps, track average pace and it measures calorie burn more efficiently due to an auto-detect stroke.
One of the biggest features that makes the Watch Series 2 a more serious fitness device, is the inclusion of a built-in GPS. The GPS tracks distance, pace and speed for workouts; users can then receive workout information on the activity app on their iPhone.
What this indicates, is the potential the wearable market has with healthy living. A report from MaRS shows that by 2018, wearables for medical health could reach $5.1 billion, with wearables for fitness in a consumer market, being able to reach over $20 billion.
Having a major company like Apple dedicate a device to the market, shows how willing people are to better their health through technology. Indeed, in January this year the NHS announced that it would be harnessing technology to enhance services and patients’ lifestyles.
Steps have already been taken to achieve this up-to-date vision of the NHS. New online NHS 111 services, announced by health secretary Jeremy Hunt last week, outline key approaches the service needs to go digital by 2018 and paperless by 2020.
Projects such as the partnership between data specialist Stalist and The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust on data migration, and the tackling of the obesity epidemic by digital heath company, Inhealthcare, are strong examples of the push forward.
Just like Apple’s Smart Watch and other wearable fitness devices, the NHS’s steps towards a digital future could mark a turning point for how people are viewing their health.