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The most interesting thing about Philips' new health gadgets is their FDA status

Jon Phillips | Aug. 2, 2016
Philips' new health watch, body analysis scale, blood pressure monitors, and thermometer scream "medical device" in both form and function.

Then there’s the new Philips health watch, which looks about as sexy as a medic alert bracelet. It’s also rather feature-limited, at least compared to truly smart watches that offer third-party app support. The Philips watch includes a stark black and white display covered in Gorilla Glass; auto-tracking for sleep, running, walking and biking; and Philips’ own proprietary optical heart rate sensor. 

Philips’ sensor delivers continuous, 24-7 heart rate data, including resting heart rate, heart rate during exercise, and heart rate during recovery. This is great data, and it trumps the Apple Watch’s heart rate story, as Apple’s device must be removed at night. But wouldn’t most consumers want a much more beautiful, feature-rich gadget like the Apple Watch, or one of the many Android Wear watches that records heart rate and steps, and also delivers a universe of apps?

Well, Philips is clearly going after consumers who might never even consider a health-focused wearable until it’s recommended by their doctor. And because all of Philips’ gadgets hook into a single app, the user can slip into a connected universe where all of his or her data appears on the same dashboard. Heart rate data mingles with weight data, which mingles with step data, sleep data, blood pressure data and even body temperature data. It’s like reading one’s own medical chart—albeit simplified for lay people and customized for one’s specific health goals.

That’s not necessarily what I need, but it’s exactly the kind of experience my 87-year-old dad might tolerate. He’s looking for easy-to-read signals that speak to his specific medical conditions. He’s not interested in any flair.


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