"Watching Your Health" by Scott Budman

It will tell you the time. The weather. Your stock prices. You can book an Uber ride, a hotel room, or a pizza, all by touching the screen. But, unlike your smartphone, you don’t have to expend the effort to take it out of your pocket. After all the hype, the Apple Watch is here. My first impression? It’s an awful lot like an iPhone – not that that’s a bad thing – but with a much smaller screen. Now, to be honest, if you’ve already spent the money for a smartphone (and are spending more money on the monthly data plan), do you really need its mini-me? Which brings me to my second impression. Admittedly, I haven’t worn a watch since buying my first cell phone. But the Apple Watch will, eventually, be a lot more than just another way to check your text messages. It may take awhile, but this could be the next wave of devices: Connected, literally, to our bodies, and telling us a lot about what’s going on in our world. And by “our world,”I mean a lot more than text messages and stocks. Before rolling out the Watch, Apple CEO Tim Cook teased a feature called ResearchKit that will collect health data from Apple devices. If you agree to it, your data would be collected anonymously and studied by doctors.

The possibilities here go way beyond ordering food or making a phone call from your wrist. It could soon mean a new way to fight diseases. Silicon Valley companies like 23andme have been collecting DNA for purposes like this. Imagine if millions of us could learn about, and fight, a disease like Parkinson’s by wearing a watch. App makers are already working to help; Doctors and hospitals are already lining up to collect data. We in Silicon Valley are always on the lookout for the next “New” thing. The Apple Watch is the next entry. Look for brisk sales in the beginning, and lots of imitators. But what happens next should be even more interesting. And, dare I say, healthy.

Scott is the business & tech reporter for NBC Bay Area.
He’s on Twitter: @scottbudman


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