Verily recently announced the launch of a new smartwatch called the Study Watch that will be focused on use in medical research studies.
When it comes to smartwatches for healthcare, the Apple Watch has gotten most of the attention. A number of studies have begun to explore potential applications in healthcare, like in the management of depression or promoting healthy lifestyles. While much is made of Apple’s hidden hand in encouraging healthcare use, none of the embedded functionality was validated by Apple (at least in a publicly available way). We’ve seen some researchers begin to do that, such as studies looking at heart rate accuracy.
Google took a different approach as far back as 2015, announcing a “medical grade” wearable focused on research. The idea was that this would come with validated, FDA-cleared functionality to drive health care use. That was announced nearly 2 years ago.
This latest product from Verily is a much sleeker smartwatch focused on medical research. It will be able to capture a wide range of data including ECG, movement data, and “electrodermal activity” (whatever that means). According to Verily, it will also have a battery that lasts a week, support on-board data analysis, and encrypt all captured data. It’s slated for use in a study focused on Parkinson’s as well as the Baseline Project.
Alphabet is clearly focusing more on the “medical grade” side of the wearable market than many others in this space, where validation of healthcare use is generally left to third party clinical research groups. It will be interesting to see whether this approach translates, for example, in digital health tools for, say, Parkinson’s disease that use the Study Watch. Hopefully, with what appears to be enthuasiastic support from Alphabet and Verily, we’ll see more robust validation testing on both the data the Study Watch captures and its health applications.