What does Apple’s keynote mean for mHealth?

What does Apple’s keynote mean for mHealth?

The technology world has been rife with leaks this week regarding features which Apple® were expected to launch at its 2017 Keynote today. Most of them appeared to be true, with iPhone 8®, iPhone 8 Plus® and iPhone X® all being launched and including wireless charging along with a host of other improved features. But will anything that happened have an impact on the mHealth arena?

Apple® Watch 3

Whilst the timing was right, but perhaps less widely predicted, Apple® announced a new Watch 3 with its most revolutionary feature being the ability to make and receive calls without a partnered iPhone being nearby. Many people would suggest that was the key feature it was missing, and together with wireless charging might actually see the Watch become more mainstream. Potentially this opens up mHealth benefits in situations like monitoring vulnerable relatives or supporting emergency personnel in the field “hands free”. More obviously from an mHealth perspective were the references in the speech to the heart rate monitor and the work with Stanford Medical on detecting Atrial Fibrillation, and the positive comments about the FDA discussions. Very much a watch this space, but no mention yet on glucose sensing direct on the watch which Apple® are rumoured to be working on.

New iPhones

Much of the discussion was around the new Augmented Reality capabilities and enhancements to CPU/GPU to support these sort of technologies. Given our benchmarking already shows that the iPhone beats the major competitors on intensive image processing tasks this promises even greater performance. No doubt AR will find its way into countless gaming and advertising applications as the technology becomes more widespread, but it will likely also support medical learning and examination processes as well. Of course those sorts of approach are already possible on iPhone 7 and other devices and aren’t truly revolutionary, even if they are a bit faster.

A key feature of the new iPhone X® is the face recognition technology which replaces the finger print sensor. mHealth applications of that underlying technology are likely to be possible, although as a user facing array of sensors they are likely to be somewhat limited. However, as the world becomes increasingly concerned about device security, Apple’s claims that it is up to 20x more secure than their fingerprint sensor mean this technology has the potential to redefine the gold standard in patient data privacy.

The costs of these new devices will of course be prohibitive for democratising healthcare, and so it was reassuring to see that Apple® will continue to support the iPhone SE, which whilst far from the cheapest mobile device on the market will mean there are options for users to benefit from Apple’s technology without splashing out $1000 in the process.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the company.

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