independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Could Apple's iWatch monitor your sleep patterns?

How Apple's iWatch could look - can we expect mock-ups of a Google watch soon? Photo: Cult of Mac

Apple has reportedly made another hire for its ‘iWatch’ project – a sleep expert from Philips Research, who could help transform the wearable device into night-time monitor.

Dr. Roy J.E.M. Raymann has extensive experience in wearable technology, sensors, and non-pharmacological methods of improving sleep quality, such as “mild skin warming', according to 9to5Mac.

He also founded the Philips Sleep Experience Laboratory, and has led projects researching various aspects of sleep through the Philips’ Consumer Lifestyle Sleep Research Program and the company’s Brain, Body, and Behaviour group.

Before working at Philips, he worked at TNO Defense from May 2006 to October 2008, where he conducted research on sleep, thermoregulation and wearable physiological sensors, focusing on soldiers and sportsmen as his test subjects.

Raymann's experience would make him an obvious candidate to develop sleep monitoring capabilities for Apple's long-rumoured iWatch. Tracking sleep patterns is a focus for several of the popular fitness tracking products on the market today, such as the FitBit Force, Nike FuelBand and Jawbone Up.

The Jawbone Up, for example, monitors the wearer's micro movements while they are asleep, to determine whether they are awake, in light sleep or in deep sleep. This information, together with data on the wearer's movement and eating habits, can then inform the wearer's health and fitness regime.

Last month it was reported that Apple had hired two medical technology experts, fueling rumours that the company's forthcoming iWatch could have a health focus.

Nancy Dougherty from startup Sano Intelligence and Ravi Narasimhan from general medical devices firm Vital Connect both joined Apple earlier this year.

Dougherty's research at Sano Intelligence was based around the development of a patch that lets the wearer read their blood glucose levels without needing to take a blood sample, while Narasimhan worked with biosensor technology to measure vital signs such as skin temperature and respiratory rate.

It is thought that their combined experience could enable Apple to incorporate some innovative health features into its rumoured smartwatch.

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