Last Wednesday, 12 September, Apple presented the latest products during the Apple Keynote at the Apple Campus in Cupertino. During this yearly event, Apple introduces new products like iPhones and Apple Watches to the World.
This year, the main focus was towards their new generation of iPhones – the Phone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, and iPhone XR – and the fourth generation Apple Watch.
The new Apple Watch was mostly interesting from an healthcare point-of-view because of all the new health-related features that it bears.
In this article, we will look at all the health related features that Apple announced.
Apple Watch 4
Fast Insights Into Vital Data
The beautiful Apple Watch has a very slick design and got a boost software-wise. The so called Watch Faces are even more dynamic and can show even more information. Using software plugins – called Complications – you can add and configure the information that is shown on the watch face.
By adding information like activity- and vital sign data, you can instantly see how you are doing and if you reached your activity goals.
Make ECG’s With Your Watch
The 4th generation smartwatch bears – besides the already known optical heart sensor – an electronic hart sensor which is integrated around the optical one on the bottom.
This allows the Apple Watch 4 to make a precise ElectroCardioGram (ECG).
By pressing your finger on the Crown on the side of the watch you close the circuit between yourself and the device, which on its turn allows the watch to make the ECG.
The American Heart Association backs Apple with the heart features and helped them to get it right. The Apple Watch 4 also got approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the ECG sensor and the smartwatch. This makes the Apple Watch 4 the first of its kind to have received a formal approval.
Improved Atrium Fibrillation recognition
The Apple Watch was already able to recognise Atrium Fibrillation, but it wasn’t the most accurate way of measuring and recognising it. Apple spared no expense to perfect the hart rhythm algorithm and hardware.
Any problems with your heart that are recognised by the wearable will be communicated to you via notifications and are registered as findings in Apple’s Health App for later reference.
The fourth generation Apple Watch now also has integrated fall detection. The wearable recognises it when you trip, slide and drop to the flow and will show a message when it has detected this. If you don’t respond – by clicking the screen – within a number of seconds, it will call a designated emergency number so you will get help asap.
This seems like a simple feature, but it took Apple a lot of time and the usage of advanced techniques like Machine Learning to analyse the smartwatch’s sensor data so it could recognise a fall correctly.
It most certainly is a very useful feature that will help disabled- and elderly people get help faster in the unfortunate case that they fall.
Even though the fourth generation Apple Watch is packed with new features and improvements, Apple managed to keep its battery life to the same 18 hours of “full day” usage on a single charge.
Next Generation iPhones
The newest generation iPhones consists out of 3 different models (from left to right):
- the iPhone Xs with 5,8 inch OLED screen
- the iPhone XS Max with 6,5 inch OLED screen
- the somewhat more affordable iPhone XR with 6,1 inch Liquid Retina (TFT) screen
This generation iPhones is even more powerful because if the faster multi-core processors that empower the devices.
Onboard Machine Learning
One of the most interesting things about this new generation iPhones for (medical) analysis purposes is the 8 Core Machine Learning chip inside of them. It can compute as much as five million (!) calculations per second. Sounds like enough power to really speed up Machine Learning onboard.
The phone has a smart implementation to manage its effort and can decide what it should use for certain computations in milliseconds. Whether it needs to calculate something using the Graphics unit (GPU), the Processor (CPU) or the Machine Learning chip, the iPhone will know whats best.
The devices will contain iOS 12, which has some nice features for health related solutions as well.
Next-Gen Augmented Reality
AR Kit 2 is the latest generation of the Augmented Reality layer in the Operating System. This version is even better when it comes to recognising your surroundings and how to project virtual objects on top of that.
During the Keynote there was a very nice demonstration of an app called Homecourt. This app analyses and supports basketball trainings. Homecourt analyses the playing field in realtime and can see how someone throws basketballs at the hoop. It analyses 6 key indications and stats in realtime while it simultaneously analyses and tracks the player’s body position and movement.
Because Homecourt doesn’t need additional sensors, expensive devices, or extra markings on the field, it provides a non-intrusive way of monitoring and analysing which is something that benefits the process and the player.
After seeing this demonstration, we truly appreciate the potential that the latest generation iPhones bear. A derived solution of such implementation would do wonders for health related purposes like realtime observation- and analysing revalidation and movement therapies.
The innovations that Apple introduces into this world show the trend that producers of smart devices are focussing more and more on the improvement and support of health related applications.
Technology will continue to expand the insight in the personal well-being of its owner and that is one of the goals that both Proteges and its mother company Sforza are pursuing.