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Collection of Health Data Centerpiece of Apple Watch Launch

September 9, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
| Reprints

On Tuesday Sept. 9, Apple launched its long-awaited Apple Watch device, which will aim to better monitor consumers’ health by collecting data and sharing it with providers.

According to Apple’s presentation today, the smartwatch, which must be used in conjunction with an Apple smartphone, comes with two apps that give a complete picture of the consumer’s health and fitness. One of the apps is aimed at casual exercisers and another at more serious exercisers.

The device has an accelerometer to measure body movement; custom sensors to measure intensity by tracking your heart rate; and uses the GPS and Wi-Fi in the consumer’s iPhone to help track distance, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook. That ability to track data will work with the company’s new HealthKit app, which will debut with the new iOS operating system, Cook said.

According to Apple’s website, HealthKit allows all the health and fitness apps to work together, and work harder, for the consumer. “Heart rate, calories burned, blood sugar, cholesterol—your health and fitness apps are great at collecting all that data. The new Health app puts that data in one place, accessible with a tap, giving you a clear and current overview of your health,” the website reads.

Apple Watch, launched on Sept. 9

The use of wearable tracking devices should continue to spike; the New York City-based ABI Research recently predicted that nearly 100 million wearable devices will ship over the next five years.

Included in Apple Watch are rings that you can close once you've hit your goal. A complete ring makes sure you've stood for a minute every hour in a 12-hour day, for example. Exercise and daily movements can be tracked in separate rings, and the fitness app stores all of the data so you can compare over time, Apple officials announced during the presentation.

According to Reuters, who spoke with people familiar with Apple's plans for HealthKit, the tech giant has held talks about the upcoming service with various companies, including Mount Sinai, the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins and electronic medical record (EMR) providers Allscripts and Epic Systems to integrate HealthKit data directly into patients' medical records.

Additionally, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune had reported that the Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic would be at Apple’s side during the presentation to show how data from the Health app can flow into the more sophisticated management system of a major health center. However, it appeared that Mayo did not take the stage during the launch after all. The two companies have reportedly been working together for about two years.

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