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Doctors want to see more from Apple's smartwatches

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San Francisco (Sept 12, 2014): Technology gurus were quick to predict the demise of most fitness wristbands and smartwatches when Apple Inc launched its Apple Watch. But healthcare professionals and fitness junkies were left wanting to see more.

Observers say there is little evidence for now that the device's fitness capabilities surpass the competition. Others, hoping for groundbreaking health features from a company whose Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook spoke of how sensors are "set to explode," were left wondering what's in store for the product.

The company is planning to unveil richer health features and additional sensors in later versions, the first iteration not hitting the market until early 2015.

The sources could not be identified because Apple's plans for the watch are private.

The Apple Watch, unveiled on Thursday, is designed to be used alongside the iPhone.

Independently of a mobile device, the watch can track activity: it uses an accelerometer to measure your movement as well as heart rate. Runners can also listen to music through a bluetooth headphone. Many connected wristbands already on the market, such as Jawbone's UP or the Fitbit, can do all that and more.

At this point, it's unclear whether the watch will appeal to the two consumer groups most in need of health data: Self-professed "quantified selfers" who regularly track their own body metrics such as food intake and sleep, and those battling chronic medical conditions and their care providers.

"I'd need to see data that it's useful before buying the watch or recommending it to colleagues," said Joshua Landy, a Toronto, Canada-based critical care specialist and the chief medical officer for Figure 1, a health startup.

Landy said he would look at patients' data from the watch, but would be equally interested in data collected in a notebook.

Danielle Levitas, a technology analyst for IDC, described the health and fitness aspects so far as "table stakes."

"I was expecting there to be some true healthcare applications that would take it a step further beyond wellness," she said. Levitas noted that the watch did not track sleep, like Jawbone's UP wrist band, but said she did not expect this would be a deal breaker for most consumers. Her primary frustration with the watch was the decision to offload GPS and Wi-FI to the phone, presumably to keep the price tag at a modest $349, she said.

 




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