Can Apple Keep The Doctor Away? : Wearable Technology & Our Health

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Carissa Bahr & Kris Hinck

How many fitness technology products do you own? Is there a Wii Fit in the cupboard under the television? Is there a Garmin heart rate monitor in the bathroom drawer? Perhaps you have put your name down as one for the first buyers of the Apple Watch.

If we think back, it was only in 1977 when the Commodore Personal Electronic Transactor and the Apple II were released and then within 30 years Nintendo demonstrated the Wii Fit changing the way people interacted with technology.

Less than seven years after Nintendo changed how we interacted with technology, FitBit released their new wearable technology that allows consumers to track their daily activity and achieve health and fitness goals like nothing before.  Have a look the next time you are standing in the queue at the supermarket – how many people do you see wearing a FitBit?  The development and accessibility of health related wearable technology has exploded in the last few years!

Companies like Suunto, Garmin and Polar have been tracking our movement, heart rate and calories for more than a decade and are well established in the health and fitness market. So why has Apple developed a smart watch and entered the market of wearable technology?

Apple are the masters of innovation, very rarely if ever the inventors of a new product category. In utilising this strategy, idea generation, market potential and concept testing is more rapid and agile. The fourth stage of new product development – Design and Development – is where Apple time and time again succeeds.

Where computer technology has continued to evolve, watch design has rarely changed since they became popular in the 1920s. Previous attempts at new designs – calculator watch, pager watch, phone watch – have all faded away.  Research suggests wearable technology has consistently failed due to underdeveloped visual appeal and thus not attractive to or broadly adopted by the consumer .

What consumers want:

Wearability – easy to wear and carry around

Ease of use – achieving what the user wants easily

Compelling design – aesthetics and attractiveness

Functionality – appropriate functions for performing

Price of the product – affordable price

Reflecting on early reviews of the Apple Watch one general consensus is clear, it is sleek and beautiful!

The New Apple Watch

Are we again being visually lured by an Apple product? Maybe we simply cannot live without the Apple Watch. Is it the best smart watch on the market? How does it compete with companies that have been in the wearable technology market for many years – Garmin and Fitbit now also have similar looking products. 

Apple are launching the Apple Watch with the tagline “Our most personal device yet”. Are we ready for such intimacy? Can the technology handle the personal data that impacts on our health? Many are questioning if these devices will have the potential for us to surrender control of our health. Our instincts, feelings and intuition of our own health may become dampened with too much reliance on data we don’t necessarily understand.  

Has Apple failed in their assessment of the market potential for the Apple Watch?

Isn’t the strength of human nature to sense, feel and experience? Particularly in relation to our health and state of wellbeing. Even elite athletes will choose not to train with wearables at times. This ensures they do not lose the ability to read themselves or rely too heavily on numbers. This is a great skill and one we should educate to understand our own instincts of wellbeing. Is it for the health experts and application developers to decide for us why we need them? Perhaps Apple are merely providing us a greater opportunity to take control.

Title Image Source: TIME Magazine September 2014 Pages 39-47

Article Image Source : Apple Website https://www.apple.com/au/watch/

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7 thoughts on “Can Apple Keep The Doctor Away? : Wearable Technology & Our Health

  1. This is a meaningful article. It was a long time, Apple is considered as pioneer in the evolution of technology. Smart phone, computer, touch screen products seems to be inspiration for the competitors. In recent years, Apple’s products begin to be developed based on the needs of the market and consumers. However, the stability and sophistication helped Apple’s products are addressed by the majority of consumers. Like other smart wearing devices, apple watch is equipped with features that help users monitor their own health. The aggregated data is analyzed to make useful conclusions for the user. This feature is not new; it is a factor to stimulate loyal customers to buy this smart meter. Apple maintains uniformity in the products they develop. Users can keep app-purchased through many generation products
    Does smart watches are worth as Apple’s Tim Cook given word or not, it is still available for consumers to comment. However, these features are hard to resist. The development of wearing equipment is just in the early stages of development, is far to assert that people really need these products for their own health.

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    • I do believe wearable technology development has assisted people in understanding their health and in achieving their goals. But becoming totally dependent on a gadget to tell me how fit or healthy I’m not so sure about. Then combining it with all the other features of the Apple Watch….??
      It certainly will be interesting to see how this product category develops in the future.
      Thanks for commenting on our blog!

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  2. With all the hype surrounding wearable gadgets, it is only normal for a company like Apple to test the market with their new product, the Apple Watch. Apple is certainly not the innovator in the wearables market because they are not the first company to release a smart watch. But customers, especially loyal Apple fans, are definitely excited to hear about the Apple Watch when it was announced. Timing is probably the key here with the Apple Watch product launch. A lot of different wearable gadgets from different tech companies are available these days. Fitbit has released a number of Fitness Activity Trackers over the years with Fitbit Surge being its latest addition. Samsung has also tried to enter into the wearable gadget market by releasing a number of smart watches early (probably too early) with new models released only to fix the issues found on the earlier models. Apple is now benefited from a stronger customer awareness surrounding the wearable gadgets. At the early stage of its product life cycle, the future seems promising for the Apple Watch.

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    • When researching this article, I did wonder if people will wear the Apple Watch for health & fitness reasons or for the other features that it has. I agree Apple fans will be lining up to purchase one but will they convert the current wearers of FitBit & Garmin to purchase it?
      Thanks for commenting on our blog!

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  3. As wearable technology is still evolving with new products and features this article is good for those who are new to this type of product or who haven’t used .Although people use it daily basis only few of them are regular in monitoring and using those data to improve their lifestyle. .
    Mainly consumers look for wearability price and it’s feature .. In case of apple it’s expensive product to invest and also customers need to have iPhone or ipad to connect with it.so extra investment is needed . Then if a person uses this device it gives a timely data what they have to do and it has more risks in it..example if a person is on diet to loose weight he/she has to follow strict diet and if they goes on checking their weight everyday .It creates a tension why no change in it..It must be checked weekly basis.
    Likewise anything if they use this data many times to check how is the change , creates a problem to them nly. . And also it must more user friendly .. Any new technology can’t avoid them from doctor. .

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    • Thanks for your comments hermanth2015. You touch on a critical point we wanted to make in our blog. That is the ‘health’ related data that we can now capture in these devices has an enormous potential to heal. However, it may also have the potential to harm such as the psychological reasons you mention in your post. Perhaps we are ill-equipped to digest all this health data let alone interpret it to benefit our health. Some other points to note that the watch is so feature packed that these ‘important’ features may be lost in the less necessary, but also advanced users of these features may not eventuate as mostly pairing is required with a phone and rarely do highly active individuals train with their phone, although I can appreciate many sub-advanced users do.

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  4. Ask any elite athletes and they’ll tell you that most of the time they don’t make their training (or competitive) decisions based on numbers coming from wearable devices. If they feel great they go hard, if they feel not so good they go more carefully. If they feel tired, they rest. We all love shiny gadgets. Tech companies are trying to present them as ‘smart’ training or ‘health’ tools and capitalizing on it. The human brain is much smarter than these machines and once one know some basic training principles (small week-to-week load progression, variation within the week, rest day, training volume/intensity vs competition needs, etc) or basic health tips (be active most days, eat a variety of food, sleep enough, etc), individual intuition, experience and perceptions (well-being, fatigue, etc), not devices will produce the smartest decisions.

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