Apple over the past 18 months has been in aggressive pursuit of new technologies in potential growth markets that have reportedly seen the company orchestrate closed-door meetings with the nation’s top electric car manufacturer while also trying its hand at developing technology that could help predict heart attacks.
Much has been made about the Tesla link but I am more interested in the medical device approach.
One big hangup for any medical device is the need for FDA approval. You simply cannot make a blood pressure reader on a smartwatch. The FDA wants to make sure that it provides accurate measurements.
And the FDA comes down hard on anyone who does not follow its procedures.
So, Apple had a high level meeting with the FDA in January. We have a good idea that its smartwatch may have health monitors in it, along the line of Fitbit or the Nike band.
But, I think it will be set up for something more – as the nexus for a whole constellation of medical devices which connect to it.
Like the app store, Apple will not build all these devices itself. It will provide the opportunity for others to make the apps and hardware, perhaps even working with the FDA to facilitate the process. And take a cut.
How about an oximeter that already connects to a wrist bound display? Or an ambulatory blood pressure monitor? It would be easy to modify this to a Thunderbolt connection.
Right now, ophthalmologists are using handheld ultrasound wands that attach via USB to a labtop. How about if the wand connected to a smartwatch which then transmitted the information to the laptop?
I don’t think Apple will be making the medical devices itself. It will simply create a medical app store.