Apple announced Apple Watch Series 6, introducing a revolutionary Blood Oxygen feature that offers users even more insight into their overall wellness. Apple is joining forces with researchers to conduct three health studies that include using Apple Watch to explore how blood oxygen levels can be used in future health applications. This year, Apple will collaborate with the University of California, Irvine, and Anthem, the second-largest insurer in the U.S, to examine how longitudinal measurements of blood oxygen and other physiological signals can help manage and control asthma.
Asthma is a disease that affects your lungs. It is one of the most common long-term diseases of children, but adults can have asthma, too. Asthma causes wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing at night or early in the morning. If you have asthma, you have it all the time, but you will have asthma attacks only when something bothers your lungs. During an asthma attack, the sides of the airways in your lungs swell and the airways shrink. Less air gets in and out of your lungs, and mucous that your body makes clogs up the airways. You can control your asthma by knowing the warning signs of an asthma attack, staying away from things that cause an attack, and following your doctor’s advice.
Apple Watch Series 6 expands the health capabilities of previous Apple Watch models with a new feature that conveniently measures the oxygen saturation of the user’s blood, so they can better understand their overall fitness and wellness. To compensate for natural variations in the skin and improve accuracy, the Blood Oxygen sensor employs four clusters of green, red, and infrared LEDs, along with the four photodiodes on the back crystal of the Apple Watch, to measure light reflected back from blood. Apple Watch then uses an advanced custom algorithm built into the Blood Oxygen app, which is designed to measure blood oxygen between 70 percent and 100 percent, Apple stated.
Anthem, Apple, and a range of other collaborators are teaming up on a study to investigate how people diagnosed with asthma could use consumer devices, like Apple Watch, to better manage their condition. The study is being conducted by U.C.Irvine, with the data collection provided by the health-tech company CareEvolution. it’s designed to be virtual, meaning that participants don’t need to go to study sites in person. The two-year study is looking at whether data collected from the iPhone and Apple Watch can help people with asthma predict potentially serious outcomes, which could lead to hospitalization. About 1.8 million people end up in emergency rooms from asthma each year. 1 in 14 people overall have the condition. That makes asthma a big source of cost for health plans, including Anthem, which offers coverage to both commercial populations and lower-income populations through Medicaid. Anthem has said that it intends to recruit a diverse study population, according to CNBC.
Members of the active group — those with Beddit and Apple Watch — will feed data points like daily symptoms and triggers into a “digital asthma tool.” This information is used to generate behavioral “nudges.” Educational material about how to better manage asthma will also be supplied to participants, the report says. The effort includes videos voiced by Dr. Mike Evans, a YouTube personality who has worked with Apple since 2016. The asthma study will be a first for Apple, though the company has long been investigating technology that could impact how people live with the condition. Last year, for example, Apple purchased asthma monitoring startup Tueo Health, Apple Insider wrote.
Experts caution that the program might not work. Sachin Gupta, a pulmonologist in San Francisco, who treats patients with asthma states that it certainly will be effective at sending nudges, but whether these lead to modification of behavior or ultimately alarm fatigue and discontinuation is to be determined. “The studies of smartphones in asthma have been limited so far by the small size and by not being controlled.” – he added.
Separately, Apple will work closely with investigators at the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research and the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at the University Health Network, one of the largest health research organizations in North America, to better understand how blood oxygen measurements and other Apple Watch metrics can help with the management of heart failure. Finally, investigators with the Seattle Flu Study at the Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine and faculty from the University of Washington School of Medicine will seek to learn how signals from apps on Apple Watch, such as Heart Rate and Blood Oxygen, could serve as early signs of respiratory conditions like influenza and COVID-19.
It is interesting to note that Chinese AI company Shanghai Zhizhen Intelligent Network Technology Co., Ltd., also known as Xiao-i is suing Apple on the grounds of patent infringement. Chinese company filed a formal lawsuit against Apple in Shanghai High People’s Court on the 3rd of August 2020. This is not their first encounter over this patent. In a social media post, Xiao-i asked Apple “to stop patent infringement on its smart assistant product Siri, including but not limited to stopping the manufacturing, using, promising to sell, selling and importing products.”