Rumor: Apple working on entirely new, advanced health-tracking hardware for 2017 launchTen years after the launch of the first iPhone, Apple could be planning to unveil a "killer new product" developed within its health laboratories, a new report claims —though details are vague.
The rumor stems from Taiwan's Economic Daily News, which claims that the new product will "accurately collect users' personal daily life including heart rate, pulse, blood sugar changes and other information." It was said that technical director Jay Blahnik and Apple's health-focused development team have been working on the mysterious new product for more than two years.
As Apple gears up for an apparent 2017 launch, the report suggested the company is now tapping suppliers as it looks to finalize the product. On board are said to be Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Foxconn, TPK, Zhen Ding Technology, and more.
The report suggested that Apple's pressure sensing 3D Touch technology, found in the iPhone 6s, will play a crucial role in the new health product.
It claims that the new product, along with health sensing capabilities in the 2017 iPhone, could "set off a new whirlwind" within the technology industry.
The report was first discovered by Macotakara, which suggested Apple has developed a "revolutionary idea" with this new product that will somehow be related to its power supply.
No indication of a form factor for the device —whether it will be wearable or standalone— was given in translations of either report. But considering the rumor suggests it will be a first-generation device, it would seem that the new hardware will not be a more advanced version of the Apple Watch.
Over the last few years, Apple has been steadily building a health-focused team, including doctors, researchers and fitness experts. In addition to building new capabilities in the Apple Watch and iPhone, the team has been fleshing out developer-focused platforms like HealthKit, ResearchKit and CareKit.
Before he died, Apple cofounder Steve Jobs challenged his company to fix what he viewed as a disjointed healthcare system. Jobs believed technology could solve a gap between patients and healthcare professionals.
Clearly the Apple Watch is a major part of that vision, but what form new health-focused hardware could take remains a mystery. One concept that's been tossed about are smart band accessories, optional add-ons for the Apple Watch that could add advanced functionality going well beyond the capabilities of the device itself, measuring blood oxygen, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.
In addition, earlier this year Apple posted a new job opening seeking a lawyer with expertise in the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Apple's Privacy Counsel position advises on federal regulatory matters related to future products, suggesting the company plans to develop comprehensive medical technology beyond its current lineup, which includes as-yet-unregulated devices like the Apple Watch.