Google is working on a health watch and it already has hundreds of working prototypes according to an article in MIT Technology Review. The device will be packed with sensors and it will use a circular e-ink display to preserve battery life.
The prototype is in the hands of Verily Life Sciences, a division of the multinational conglomerate Alphabet which is the parent company of Google. An MIT Technology Review journalist managed to get a peak at the current iteration of the tracker at the firm’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. And the device looks nothing like the health-tracking watch Alphabet’s X research division showed off last year (pictured below).
The current prototype features an analogue style casing, a circular design and an e-paper screen, similar to the one on the Pebble smartwatch. Long battery life is essential as you are meant to wear it as often as possible.
“If people are going to wear this you can’t charge it every day; that just isn’t going to work,” said Brian Otis, who is the health company’s chief technical officer.
“The big push now is low power.”
As you would expect, the health watch includes an accelerometer and gyroscope for motion detection, and an optical heart rate sensor in the back. The same sensors which you will find on any self-respecting fitness tracker today. In addition to this, an outer ring on the device can be used to measure a person’s electrocardiogram and other sensors on the back may be used to measure galvanic skin response, which reflects stress.
“The watch is one of several hardware activities that have a common goal, which is how to better manage the human condition and interrogate the human organism at scale across health and illness,” said Dennis Ausiello, a senior physician at the Massachusetts General Hospital and a paid scientific adviser to Verily and its CEO.
Sadly, it might not be easy to get hold of Google’s new smartwatch as it will not be a Fitbit competitor. The watch is being designed for medical research studies rather than as consumer device.
Software engineers, analytics experts, and user experience designers at Verily are working at further platforms, products, and algorithms to analyse health information. The ultimate aim is to be able to identify patterns that could reveal early warning signs, more accurately diagnose disease, or point to a more effective treatment. Other research in progress includes a glucose-sensing contact lens, a cancer-detecting wrist band, and a big study of what it means to be healthy.
We will make sure to report when new information becomes available.
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