Wearables, iWatch, and Biometric Data

Wearables, iWatch, and Biometric Data

(Featured image courtesy of Gizmodo.com)

Tomorrow Apple is expected to announce after months (or years) of speculation some type of watch device or wearable at a press event.  Wearables are front page news today; device makers are tripping and falling all over themselves to release and announce their product before Apple gets their big reveal tomorrow morning.  Moto 360, Motorola’s (can’t tell if its an initiative or a brand yet) thing around their wearable device concepts is in full “blast you with marketing mode”.  Mashable has a review of LG’s latest watch entry up here.  I own two watches that I wear very rarely, and even then only as an accessory to a more business-oriented look– Typically a suit.  However, my money (and excitement) is on Apple’s iWatch for some key reasons.

Wearables are very popular

I know a couple who got each other FitBit’s for the Christmas holiday and both wear them every single day.  The idea of a device that provides a “game-ification” or some sort of challenge for the user to do something is probably more successful than the device that doesn’t.  I liberally use the MyFitnessPal and Nike+ Running apps to provide an incentive and feedback on my runs, activity and diet.  My sister wears a wristband made by Jawbone called the UP.  Aside from it being a little loose, she says it’a great thing.  It provides heart rate and acts as a pedometer throughout her day.

For me, the most basic actions are already taken care of by my iPhone 5S– the M7 motion co-processor in my phone uses crazy low power, and I almost always have my phone in my pocket.  When I run, I wear an armband so I can listen to music and a combination of GPS and pedometer data ensures a high level of accuracy with my runs.  There is no doubt in my mind that among the active or fitness conscious, getting reliable feedback is a wonderful thing.

…But it needs to be multi-purpose

One of the few attributes I’d like while I run would be some heart rate and pulse data.  A few years ago while training for the Seattle Marathon some folks were using blocky pucks they strapped to their chests which communicated via Bluetooth back to dedicated running watches or a smartphone app.  There’s no question this stuff is big business, but I always felt better off because again: The thing tracking my data was already in my pocket, and that made it brain dead simple to manage, to not forget, and to adjust my “bad” behaviors.  An iWatch might purport to do all of those things.  Communicating over Bluetooth 4.0+ LE spec back to your phone, it may be packed with more sensors than display and power guts.  And because it may offer additional features we haven’t thought of yet, I think it could be rather ubiquitous.

It needs insane battery life

In my mind, Apple devices are some of the more battery-conscious items out there.  Anyone familiar with the latest versions of Mac OS X have seen the “Energy Use” tabs in Activity Monitor, and similar datapoints in iOS7.  This is a complete cultural shift away from apps running as quick as possible to apps that also run as efficiently as possible.  I love when I can get my MBP to last all day long, but that won’t happen if I’m running some stupid intensive process (or working in an IDE for that matter).  We’re all trained to charge our phones at night, but it would definitely suck if we needed to charge an iWatch each and every night.  I’m hoping this device gets very efficient storage and use technologies–I’d hate to see it die on the vine.

Rich Datapoints are King.

The things under the hood with regards to HealthKit in iOS8 are really nifty.  I don’t want to violate the terms of my NDA, but there are huge, diverse datapoints available to be used with any number of devices and apps.  It’s a strong foundation with the idea that your data is yours and you can take it and extrapolate whatever you’d need to.  I think that’s very empowering from a fitness standpoint and could help turn some of the issues plaguing Americans into things of the past eventually.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s announcement.  I’ve got no disposable income currently, but perhaps an iWatch is in my future.