Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has hired a sleep expert from Philips Research to work on a rumored iWatch project, 9to5 Mac reports. Roy J.E.M. Raymann has extensive experience in improving sleep quality through non-pharmacological methods and wearable technology. His research focuses on ways to improve sleep and wake-up without the use of drugs. Raymann is also an expert on creating tiny sensors for wearable tech devices that are capable of tracking a user’s sleep activity.
According to 9to5 Mac, some of Raymann’s research projects have included founding the Philips Sleep Experience Laboratory for non-clinical sleep research and projects on altering sleep patterns through non-drug sensations, including “mild skin warming.” He has also helped build small, sensitive sensors in wearable devices that can monitor sleep without being uncomfortable for the wearer.
Such an expert is a perfect fit for the iWatch project if Apple is looking to make the wearable device focus on monitoring various aspects of health as well as being an easily accessed interface for the iPhone. Other wearable tech devices have focused on health monitoring, so it makes sense that Apple would make such a function a key aspect of its iWatch.
Apple has hired several other new executives with a focus on health-monitoring technology in recent months, which has fueled rumors about the company’s entry into wearable tech with the iWatch device. Last week it was reported that Apple hired Michael O’Reilly, the former executive vice president for medical affairs and chief medical officer of Masimo Corp. (NASDAQ:MASI) Masimo recently launched the iSpO2, an iPhone-enabled pulse oximeter. Pulse oximeters are devices that monitor blood oxygen levels through non-invasive means. The iSPO2 clips to a user’s fingertip and displays that person’s blood oxygen levels when it is connected to an iPhone.
Apple has been making hires in the medical and health monitoring fields since last year. Last summer, 9to5 Mac cited insider sources that reported Apple was assembling a wearable tech product development team that included medical sensor experts from companies like AccuVein, C8 MediSensors, and Senseonics. Apple also hired fitness expert Jay Blahnik, a former Nike (NYSE:NKE) consultant who helped to develop the FuelBand. More recently, Apple hired Nancy Dougherty and Ravi Narasimhan, two medical sensor experts with wearable technology experience.
The health possibilities for the iWatch are vast. Not only could the device help monitor sleep patterns and wake you up in a manner that would leave you more alert in the morning, it could also monitor physical activity and even alert a diabetic to drops in blood sugar.
9to5 Mac reported last week that iOS 8 will include an app called “Healthbook” that will help users record and track physical activity and other health information. In combination with the monitoring possibilities of the iWatch, Healthbook could help users digest the data recorded on the wearable device to better understand their exercise needs and sleep patterns. The report about Healthbook came just after it was revealed that Apple executives met with officials from the Food and Drug Administration to discuss “Mobile Medical Applications.”
Apple analysts are feeling optimistic about the iWatch’s potential to appeal to both current Apple users and new customers. By adding the health functions to the device, Apple is making the iWatch more than just an interface to interact with an iPad or iPhone, which will make it useful for a broader range of consumers.
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