Apple is up to something
It has been noted that Apple is hiring seasoned experts of medical technology. This has alerted the members of the community of biotechnologists, and it has also given everyone a clue that iWatch and similar products are coming next from the manufacturer of iPhone.
Clues from LinkedIn
The changes in LinkedIn profiles show that Apple has been hiring 6 to 7 well-known biomedicine experts in a short period of time during last year. Almost 15 days ago, a famous and well-reputed researcher joined Apple. Two men who know are aware of the hiring, but didn’t disclosed their identity, said that Apple is hiring experts of hardware and medical field, but it is not known that how many people will be hired.
Opinions of the Experts
Sensor technology is the main focus of Apple’s hiring. Last year Tim Cook, an area Chief Executive, predicted that sensor technology will be revolutionizing everything in the future. The people in industry say this is a lot more than the fitness devices that are currently available in the market. The new device will be able to monitor blood pressure, sugar level, human diet etc.
Mr. Malay Gandhi, chief strategy officer of a San Francisco venture capital firm called Rock Health, knew about the steps being taken by the Apple. He said that this is a very serious and calculated progress in the biosensing field. Rock Health has already backed Spire and Augmedix which are famous startups of wearable-tech.
Because of Cook’s statement about a new category of products, Apple must introduce something new this year. The last time Apple introduced a new product was in 2010 when it released iPad. This is something that bothers the investors; there is still a huge stock of it remaining although the customer deals were great and investors were given good share of profits.
On 23 April 2014, Carl Icahn who is an investor tweeted showing his pleasure over buyback plans and quarterly results. He further said that he and others will be happy to see the company launching new products.
Talks in the Media
In Japan, Apple has already registered “iWatch” as its trademark. Apple already has patents for different wrist-worn and point devices. In the month of February, Apple applied for the patent of smart earbud: a device that can identify the action of head and trace back steps.
An executive for mobile health talked to Reuters on the condition that his name will not be disclosed. He had a meeting with Apple iWatch team executive not long ago. According to him, Apple’s plan is not just limited to wearable devices rather the company is planning to develop a complete fitness and health services setup based on Apple App Store.
Steve Dowling, spokesman of Apple, didn’t want to comment when asked about recent recruiting and company’s future plans about health-tech.
The medical technologists are sure that Apple is developing a platform that is similar to Apple’s App Store. This will enable the startups to develop software and hardware for medical applications for mobiles.
Ted Driscoll, a Silicon Valley-based partner of Claremont Creek Ventures that is a specialist of medical devices and digital health, said that he is sure about Apple’s plans for exploring this area. He further said that Apple is very focused on hiring engineers that expertise in monitoring body parameters.
O2 MedTech, Masimo Corp., Vital Connect and Sano Intelligence are some of the companies from where Apple stole biomedical engineers.
Pulse oximetry device is the most famous product of Masimo. This device externally measures a patient’s absorption level of oxygen which is actually an inhaling activity. The specialty of Vital Connect is to measure important factors like body temperature and heartbeats per unit time. O2 Med Tech is trying & testing biosensors in order to invent new gadgets.
People who have joined Apple
The information on LinkedIn shows that some very important people have joined Apple Company headquartered in Cupertino, California. These people include vice president of Vital Connect biosensor technology Ravi Narasimhan, Marcelo Lamego Chief Technology Officer of Cercacor, and embedded sensors expert Nima Ferdosi.
According to a reliable source, biomedical engineer Alexander Chan who used to work for Vital Connect has also quit his job. Now his LinkedIn profile says that he has joined a tech company.
Some more LinkedIn profiles also show interesting changes. Two hardware experts Todd Whitehurst and Nancy Dougherty have also joined Apple. Nancy used to work at Sano Intelligence, a wearable sensor company. Todd used to work at Senseonics where he was a vice president; Senseonics manufactures glucose-measuring devices.
The latest personality to join Apple is Divya Nag. She joined Apple about two weeks ago, and she is the founder of Stanford affiliated startup accelerator StartX Med. She is now an important part of R & D team of Apple where a healthcare product is being developed. Divya Nag chose not to give any comments when asked about the ongoing progress.
When people and companies were contacted on LinkedIn profiles, only Ferdosi responded but chose not to give any comments. Two companies, Vital Connect and Sano, didn’t want to give any comments while two other companies, Cercacor and Masimo, accepted that people left them and joined another company. No contact could be made with MedTech and O2 while Senseonics didn’t respond to the email at all.
Apple is Using Money to Get People
According to Daniel Kraft, iWatch’s first model will be able to measure heartbeat per unit time, blood pressure and some other important parameters. Daniel Kraft is the head of FutureMed program. This program is about studying changes occurring in technology and their possible use in biomedicine.
Kraft is expecting Apple to come up with a gadget that doesn’t needs to draw out a blood sample in order to measure the level of glucose in the body.
Joe Kiani is the chief executive officer of Masimo, a firm that makes medical device. His chief medical officer left him 2013 and joined Apple. According to him, the people Apple is hiring are extraordinary people who know a lot of useful information and business secrets.
According to Kiani, Apple is using money to get, and he hopes Apple is not doing what his company is doing. Apple is offering lavish salaries to these people without telling the details of the ongoing projects.
The Question about FDA
According to New York Times, O’Reilly and other executives of Apple had a meeting with top officers of Food and Drug Administration in January. Bakul Patel was also there with other FDA officers; he is the one who finalized the mobile health guidance for FDA. There is a chance Apple can face legal issues if its products are able to do more than fitness monitoring.
Last year FDA made an announcement that a process is underway which would legalize the use of smartphone as medical equipment or at least make it legal to use a smartphone as an accessory with certain medical devices. This can cover additional equipment and mobile apps which can instantly test urine or monitor respiratory system. However, FDA’s regulation will not cover devices like FuelBand by Nike that do not give medical assistance but they do trace back steps.
Projects of Apple’s Competitors
The competitors of Apple have already tried and failed to develop such products that can capture the market. The Galaxy Gear smartwatch by Samsung got mixed reviews by consumers, and critics didn’t like it at all.
Endeavour Partners issued a report in which it was mentioned that 33% of the US-based customers owning a wearable device stopped using it within a year. The problems with the device that were mentioned in the report were appearance, life of battery, practicality and medical use. In addition to this, recently Nike had to fire FuelBand team members due to bad results.
In the meantime, Google is using another strategy to cope with the situation. Google got ahead of Apple by introducing the Android Wear which is an Android software version especially designed for wearable gadgets. Very much like Apple, Google is showing great interest in biotechnology. Right now Google is working on a project about contact lenses that will be able to measure glucose levels in human tears.