Apple might be working on a new device aimed at the healthcare market, according to a new report out of Taiwan.
The tech giant is building a new product, designed inside the company’s health research and development laboratories, which will be capable of collecting a person’s heart rate, pulse, blood sugar, and other data, the Economic Daily News is reporting, citing sources who claim to have knowledge of Apple’s (AAPL) plans. The device will reportedly launch next year, and Apple is said to be already seeking out manufacturing partners, including Foxconn—which produces its iPhones—to build the product.
The report was earlier discovered by Apple-tracking site AppleInsider.
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In addition, the sources said that the device, which hasn’t been named, would interact with a person’s iPhone and display a person’s health information on the device. It’s unknown whether the device would be a wearable, like the Apple Watch, or a separate device used solely to monitor a person’s health.
Whether the sources are correct is hard to say. On one hand, Apple has made it abundantly clear over the last few years that it’s keenly interested in health. The company currently offers health information in its iPhone, and its Apple Watch comes with sensors that can track a person’s pulse. Both the wearable and the iPhone’s sensors allow third-party health apps to take advantage and track a person’s fitness and other data.
Additionally, CEO Tim Cook told Fast Company in an interview published this week that his company is thinking seriously about how it can play a role in healthcare.
“We’ve gotten into the health arena and we started looking at wellness, that took us to pulling a string to thinking about research, pulling that string a little further took us to some patient-care stuff, and that pulled a string that’s taking us into some other stuff,” he told the magazine.
Exactly how Apple will achieve that goal, however, remains to be seen—and if it would want to offer another standalone device to sell to customers rather than incorporate some of its health features in a wearable, like the Apple Watch.
In May, Cook even said at Startup Fest Europe in Amsterdam that he believes Apple Watch could play a major role in healthcare. He argued that one day, smartwatches like the Apple Watch could be critical to finding out “what’s going on in the body.”
By the sound of things, then, it seems Apple’s appetite for launching a health-only product might seem small, if not nonexistent. It might be Apple Watch that could eventually launch with the features the Economic Daily News sources say will be coming from Apple.
Either way, look for Apple to play a bigger role in healthcare in the coming years.
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Apple did not respond to a request for comment.