Technology has come to our lives to stay and continues to evolve every day. Technology is being used for all kinds of aspects in our lives as a way to study how the world impacts our health, our mind and our bodies. As explained by Francisco D’Agostino, a recent tech giant decided to put in good use the data they collect and to use it to get some accurate numbers about women’s menstruation and overall health, everyday noise exposure and hearing loss, and the relationship between movement and heart health.
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We are talking about Apple and the beloved Apple Watch. This smartwatch has become really popular because of all the data that can show us and users know this. Business Insider reported that “Apple shipped 7.6 million smartwatches worldwide in the first quarter of 2020, according to recent data from Strategy Analytics, an increase of 23% compared to 6.2 million in the first quarter of 2019. As such, Apple now claims 55% of the smartwatch market, representing a slight increase from the 54% it controlled in the same period one year ago, according to the research firm.”
As you can see, this device is not losing popularity at all so let’s talk about how this watch can help us improve our overall health and how is being used to analyze the way we are affected by our surroundings.
During 2019, there was a hype about this watch being able to save lives after the story of Deanna was showed by Tim Cook, CEO of Apple. Deanna was a teenage girl that suffered a weird medical episode in which her heart rate increased to 190 beats per minute and the watch advised that she should look for medical attention.
This story made everybody believe that having the Apple Watch will save their lives, however, there were other concerns in placed. To start, the false positives are a thing in all devices and this would cause more people to go to the hospital even when they didn’t need to.
In the same line, if a doctor prescribed meds based on the stats given by a false positive from the watch, the damage is going to be bigger and it can cause serious consequences.
On the opposite side, false negatives are also in the picture, which can cause people to believe they are okay, but they really aren’t, which obviously can lead to conditions getting worst because of lack of control.
At any level, completely relying on the alerts or data from the Apple Watch is dangerous and that should be avoided at all costs, but not everything is bad. This watch can provide data about other problems, such as the effects of our environments in terms of hearing loss.
Another study conducted with the Apple Watch, the Air Pods and hearing loss. Fast Company explains that “the study took place between November 2019 and February 2021 and analyzed data from approximately 70,000 participants. Each participant was involved in the study for at least 60 days. In addition to noise levels, which the study captured through the Apple Watch and through Apple headphones, the study also looked at heart rate and exercise data for Watch wearers. Researchers also gathered demographic data, gave participants surveys, and used the iPhone to give participants a virtual hearing test.”
The result? The amount of noise we encounter every day affects our hearing to a point that one in ten of the participants of this study experienced hearing loss due to noise. It was also explained that “a quarter of participants experience daily average sound that’s higher than what the WHO recommends, putting them at risk of noise-induced hearing loss.”
And this situation should be studied more deeply to have possible solutions, otherwise is going to definitely increase and affect more people.
But, what’s the point of these studies?
Well, reality is that this will help Apple by giving them more information about how to prevent these issues and that way they can give their users more tips to improve their health and prevent situations like hearing loss.
That is indeed the end goal of these studies, to give people the tools and information they need to take a better care of themselves.
However, Larry Husten explains that “there’s a lot of enthusiasm out there for new, high-tech devices like the Apple Watch, but it is extremely difficult to find thoughtful perspectives on the complex medical issues they raise. We are in the middle of an overwhelming rush to embrace new technology and make health data available to everyone.
He continues by saying that “this movement is fueled by Apple and other technology companies that are starting to spread some of their enormous wealth in the medical community, laying the groundwork for their expansion into this field.”
As a final thought, Husten expressed that “unfortunately, the immediate response to this new study is likely to be even more irrational exuberance and premature implementation of a potentially harmful technology before there is any evidence showing that the Apple Watch actually improves human health.”
It is more than clear that even though technology can help us save lives, it can also have a contrary effect and lead to packed hospital facilities due to a lack of understanding regarding the data they are receiving.
We need to be alert and willing to look for more information before taking medical actions based on the data provided only by the watch. That way we can decrease the amount of damage it can cost.
There is no doubt that this technology can help some of its users, but it can also be harmful if its not treated properly so, if you own an Apple Watch, make sure to have full knowledge of the data you are receiving before taking actions based on it and use their data to find new ways to take care of yourself, as explained by Francisco D’Agostino in a recent article.