By Jim Karpen on Thu, 02/06/2014
What is Apple up to? The evidence just keeps mounting for a major focus on health and fitness. Today Apple posted a job listing seeking exercise physiologists. We already know they've hired a number of top people with expertise in areas such as medical sensors and health-monitoring equipment. The people being recruited by today's ad, which has now been taken down, would be asked to "design and run user studies related to cardiovascular fitness & energy expenditure, including calories burned, metabolic rate, aerobic fitness level measurement/tracking and other key physiological measurements…" The website 9To5Mac has posted a screen shot of the ad. Qualifications for the positions include experience with health-monitoring equipment, measuring calorie expenditure, key fitness indicators, and exercise testing. 9To5Mac says the ad suggests that Apple is moving into the development phase, which will entail product testing.
This, plus Apple's December meeting with top FDA officials, clearly shows Apple is serious about health and fitness. Some are interpreting this as evidence for health monitoring functions of the rumored iWatch. But there have also been rumors that Apple has developed a Healthbook app that will come with iOS 8 later this year.
All this seems like a brilliant move. After all, we're in the era of big data. Sensors and Internet marketers and the government are increasingly storing huge amounts of information and figuring out ways of analyzing it to extract patterns and gain insights. Think of how Amazon, for example, makes recommendations for you. It analyzes millions of purchases and tries to identify trends so it can recommend products you might like, based on what you and others have purchased.
Until now home health data collection has been rudimentary. You could take your blood pressure, weigh yourself, and take your temperature. Pedometers became popular a number of years ago, so you could track how many steps you take each day. And now fitness apps can tell you how far you run, what your average pace was, how many calories you burned, etc.
Apple seems to be intent on taking this to the limit: using a variety of sensors to monitor a wide range of health and physiology data and then analyzing that. The goal would be to let you know where you stand so you can take greater control of your health—all for the purpose of taking steps toward greater wellness. The time seems right. The technologies, such as sensors, are available, powerful mobile devices are ubiquitous, specialized chips such as Apple's M7 can store all the incoming data, and algorithms have been developed for analyzing it. Plus, people are increasingly interested in playing a more active role to enjoy optimal health. It's going to be fun to see what Apple comes up with.
[Image credit: Screen shot of Lose It! - Weight Loss Program and Calorie Counter (free)]