Millions of Americans avoid going to the doctor until they absolutely have to. The watch could be a preventative health device, nudging you to seek medical attention when your heart rate is irregular or when the cortisol levels in your sweat are abnormal. With CareKit apps, you’ll be able to immediately share that data with a doctor. Health insurance companies and the employers who pay them will love this.
There are many, many steps for Apple to take between selling the Apple Watch of today and building the game-changing device I predict it could be in the future. Beyond just the technical feasibility of putting those advanced functionalities into the watch, Apple can’t market it as a medical device without approval from regulators.
Maybe I’m being overly optimistic about the Apple Watch’s potential. Plenty of people seem satisfied with the watch as it is right now. The device has scored high in customer satisfaction surveys, including the latest one from Fluent. But Apple is nothing if not a company with big ideas and the attention to detail required to pull them off—not to mention the commitment to privacy necessary to keep medical data secure. I think it has grander ambitions for the watch.
For now, no one needs an Apple Watch. I use mine to send and receive texts, track my workouts, and tap Executive Editor Susie Ochs on the wrist when I think she’s ignoring my Slack messages. Are those essential to my happiness? Of course not. But Apple could turn the watch into a must-have health device, not just a fashion-forward tech accessory. The company’s “most personal device ever” could eventually help you a live a better life. That will justify its existence.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.