Going the distance for fitness and well-being
There is already a sea of fitness trackers on the market. What really stands out about Apple's take is that it doesn't try to track everything the same way. Walking isn't running, running isn't biking. And while lifting weights or doing pilates are both types of exercise, they're very different from each other. This is one of the things where many health trackers fail — they may excel at tracking one type of activity and a handful of metrics, but not others. Apple offers a dedicated experience for general activity tracking and training, as it should. They aren't the same thing.
Even within the general fitness or wellness category, Apple breaks out tracking into three separate rings on this device. That gives you a much fuller sense of what it takes to maintain wellness than most devices. Given all the research we have about the importance of standing, in particular to postural or musculoskeletal health it's great that Apple has broken out standing as a metric in its own right.
This will all tie back into Apple's HealthKit platform in iOS 8. Having worked in healthcare IT, I was already excited about HealthKit's potential to consolidate a diverse array of health and fitness information, along with actionable medical data that could be securely integrated with clinical systems like electronic health records. Given the direction Apple is taking with sensors in the Apple Watch, I think healthcare developers will be able to devise a lot of interesting apps for it. Linked to HealthKit, one app I can envision would remind you not just to just to stand, but to perform certain physical therapy exercises, including those assigned by a doctor or physical therapist throughout the day. Then it would report back to the provider about how often you do them and whether you do them for the requisite amount of time.
Apple spent a lot of time putting together a catalog of fitness and medical experts, including regulatory experts, in developing how both the Apple Watch and HealthKit would function and ensuring they're on the right side of regulations. I think that we've only scratched the surface of what these technologies will ultimately offer.
Apple makes geeky ideas mainstream
With both the Apple Watch and Apple Pay, Apple is taking concepts that were once far outside the mainstream and making them something everyone is aware of, even if they don't use them or if they choose an alternate already on the market. This has always been one of the company's strengths — along with its ability to step back and rethink how human beings can best interact with a technology. Together, they represent much of how Apple has always innovated: by pushing the technology sector forward and new ideas into the mainstream.
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