Apple: 'Ve vant to test your blood'

With Apple-watchers breathlessly anticipating the launch of the purported iWatch sometime this calendar year or next, word comes that the Cupertino tech giant has apparently been moving full-speed ahead into the wonderful and wacky new world of iMedicine as a big part of its wearable-tech battle plan.

According to inveterate Apple sleuth Mark Gurman at 9to5MacApple has added two new hires whose specialties should come in handy as Apple moves ahead with an iWatch.

And according to BusinessInsider:

Apple poached Nancy Dougherty, who was at a stealth startup called Sano Intelligence. Sano’s product hasn’t hit the market. But it was working on a patch that would constantly monitor your blood.

Ariel Schwartz at Fast Company used the Sano patch in 2012: “The needle-less, sensor-laden transdermal patch is painless (I handled a prototype, which felt like sandpaper on the skin), and will soon be able to monitor everything you might find on a basic metabolic panel–a blood panel that measures glucose levels, kidney function, and electrolyte balance.”

According to Dougherty’s LinkedIn profile, she was “solely responsible for electrical design, testing, and bring-up as well as system integration; managing contractors for layout, assembly, and mechanical systems” for the Sano patch. In other words, she was a big deal for the company, and presumably a big loss.

Gurman also reported that Apple has signed on Ravi Narasimhan from Vital Connect, a firm developing wearable biosensors. According to BusinessInsider:

he led R&D at Vital Connect. Vital Connect makes the “HealthPatch” which is worn on the chest and monitors a user, sending data via Bluetooth.

Vital Connect’s description of its product: “The HealthPatch biosensor is the first solution of its kind capable of capturing  clinical-grade biometric measurements in a continuous, configurable and non-obtrusive manner using a small yet powerful patch worn on the chest.”

These aren’t the only people with expertise in biomedical sensors who’ve come to Apple recently. Last year, Gurman reported that Apple was scooping up a bunch of people from biomedical startups, and people with fitness tracking backgrounds.

Apple has begun assembling a team of hardware and software engineering, medical sensor, manufacturing, and fitness experts, indicating the company is moving forward with a project to build a fitness-oriented, sensor-laden wearable computer, according to our sources.

Over the past half-decade-or-so, Apple has experimented with and shelved numerous wearable computer designs. Internal prototypes have included designs that could clip onto different pieces of clothing (like an iPod shuffle/nano) in addition to devices that could wrap around a wrist.

Between on-the-run blood work, heartbeat monitoring, glucose tracking, not to mention iris-scanning and fingerprint-reading technology, Apple and its wearable technology soon will literally be all up in our business.
Credit: Awescience.com
Patrick May Patrick May (313 Posts)

With more than 30 years on the front line of daily American journalism, I'm currently a staff writer with the San Jose Mercury News, covering Apple and writing people-centric business stories from Silicon Valley.