Could your Apple Watch stop you from ‘pulling a sickie’?

The rise of wearable health tech could mean the end of the sickie

by Emmanuel Tsekleves, Lancaster University

Now that the sun is shining and the temperature is rising, it’s officially sickie season: go to work, or get struck down with “flu”, a “24-hour virus”, or that faithful stand-by, the dodgy prawn takeaway.

Figures show that over a third of employees in the UK admit to pulling a sickie at some point or other. But things may be changing soon – wearable tech such as the Apple Watch, Microsoft Band, Fitbit, or Jawbone Up may become mainstream within a few years, bringing health monitoring capabilities that reveal how your body is performing. It’s not inconceivable that in time this same data could be used to prove how well, or unwell, you are – such as when phoning in sick.

Wearable health tech is still in its early days. These devices come with sensors that can record how many steps and how much exercise you’ve taken, how well and long you‘ve slept, stress levels, blood pressure, sun exposure, even what you’ve have eaten. Added together, all this could easily demonstrate that you’re not so sick after all.

Since some wearables are aimed at being fashionable accessories, employers might be minded to tap into the trend. So next time you’re pulling a sickie, you might need the data to back up your story. With GPS-equipped devices there’ll be no opportunity to escape your sickbed to a barbeque or trip to the beach, while ultraviolet sensors will detect the increase in sunshine and motion sensors detect movement not typically associated with bed rest.

Using your data against you

What if employers and health insurance companies move in the direction that the car insurance industry has taken, where every health transgression (a boozy night out, a Christmas feast, or too many lazy days on the sofa) could increase your health premium rates? Such a scenario isn’t so far away, and this should concern us. Apple is clearly making a beeline for the health and fitness industry with Watch and its integrated HealthKit software, now integrated with its iOS mobile operating system, and it is the only firm to do so.

Typically, health insurers use body mass index (a calculation of body fat that takes into account your age, weight and height) to set premiums, and some insurers set rates based on basic data from wearables, such as the number of steps we take link?. Fitbit and Jawbone Up are both already playing a bigger role in how health insurance is calculated, with more employers opting to monitor data generated by such wearable trackers. And here’s the catch: employers are holding their insured staff to account with penalties and rewards as part of an increasing number of so-called “corporate-wellness programmes”.

Is your wearable spying on you? MorePix, CC BY-SA

For example, at BP staff are given Fitbits for free as long as the company has access to their data. The more physically active an employee is (as measured by the device) the more points they’re awarded. Higher points lower the company’s insurance premium. Other companies are adopting similar wellbeing employee health insurance programmes too.

Consent, for now

Wearable tech is still far from perfect, and that means inventive workarounds will be found. A few acquaintances of mine who shall remain nameless have found creative ways of racking up a few more miles, while actually continuing their usual, less-than-active habits. These include holding and shaking the device for a few minutes at a time, or attaching it to their cat or dog, or offering pocket money to other, younger and fitter family members to wear. Obviously insurers and developers are aware of these, so it won’t be long until such loopholes are closed.

For now, we can consent to share our health data from wearables with employers or insurers in exchange or lower premiums or cheaper travel. But how long before the company wearable is a mandatory part of the uniform?

The Conversation

Emmanuel Tsekleves, Senior Lecturer in Design Interactions, Lancaster University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The Apple Watch Outpaced the iPhone in Year One

The good news? Apple has sold more Watches than the iPhone did in its first year back in 2007. The bad news? The future probably isn’t so bright for Apple’s wearable. 

According to the WSJ, Apple has sold twice as many Watches as iPhones in each device’s respective debut years.

Apple is yet to release any official numbers on Watch sales, but this suggestion would place the Watch in excess of 10 million units sold so far.

Apple’s Watch Outpaced the iPhone in First Year (Wall Street Journal)

The Apple Watch isn’t the breakthrough product we were hoping for

Happy birthday to the most over-hyped consumer product in recent history.

One year after the Apple Watch launch, Steve Kovach argues that the gadget isn’t the breakthrough device people expected it to be. Claiming that it hasn’t freed people from their smartphones, and apps for the watch aren’t particularly innovative.

— The Apple Watch isn’t the breakthrough product we were hoping for (Business Insider)

You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

Stephen Chukumba chalked up his Apple Watch as just a ‘toy’ — but when he let a friend borrow his watch for a week (to take it for a test drive ) Stephen came to appreciate how the smart watch had improved his life.

I derived significant utility from my watch.

Apple Watch: The iPhone Killer

David Pierce, formerly of The Verge, now at Wired writes about the ‘secret’ history of the upcoming Apple Watch.

The Apple team landed upon the Watch’s raison d’être. It came down to this: Your phone is ruining your life.

Putting aside the clichéd headline, it’s worth grabbing a coffee and sitting down to read this one.

No need for watches

Last week luxury watchmaker TAG Heuer announced plans to release their own ‘smartwatch’ later this year, set to compete with Apple’s upcoming Apple Watch.

Dan Fromer of Quartz surmises why Apple needn’t worry:

If the Apple Watch is a hit, it won’t be because Apple is winning over would-be Tag Heuer or Rolex customers. It’ll be because Apple will have convinced tens of millions of people to wear tiny computers on their wrists. Those people will then have no need for “watches.”

Nail, head.

The Apple Watch marks the start of a new Apple

One thing is clear: The introduction of the Apple Watch marks the start of a new Apple.

Several years ago, when the company was still at the helm of Steve Jobs, the Cupertino firm changed the name they had been known by for some 30 years — dropping ‘Computer’ from the ‘Apple Computer Inc’ moniker.

The new ‘Apple Inc’ tag was ushered in due to the companies then changing line-up of products. With the Apple TV, Mac, iPod and iPhone, Steve Jobs claimed “Only one of those is a computer. So we’re changing the name”.

Now, following the introduction of Apple Watch that simplified name carries more weight then ever.

Apple is no longer ‘just’ a technology company. The Apple Watch, although an intriguing piece of technology in its own right, carries its merit not only on what it can do, but also on how it looks.

The distinctive choice of different bands and straps available for the Apple Watch marks a piviotol point in the company’s history — you’re paying extra for style.

Yes, at one point in time you did have to pay extra for a black MacBook, but the choice on offer with the Apple Watch puts personal flair as a front-and-center decision.

You want the Stainless Steel Link Buckle, you’re going to pay. Want a Rose Gold Apple Watch, you’re really going to pay.

The Apple Watch marks the first big play from Apple in establishing itself as a fashion brand.

Owning a Gold iPhone or MacBook Air may well already be viewed as ‘fashionable’ tech choices, but this time Apple are the ones consciously deciding to create a product with a strong fashion focus.

Apple: The maison couture of Cupertino?


I have no disdain for my wristwatch

Apple’s Jony Ive recently spoke to Nick Foulkes of the Financial Times about the upcoming Apple Watch.

Speaking on how Apple approached designing the watch, Ive explained how it was vastly different to when they created the iPhone:

“It was different with the phone – all of us working on the first iPhone were driven by an absolute disdain for the cellphones we were using at the time. That’s not the case here. We’re a group of people who love our watches. So we’re working on something, yet have a high regard for what currently exists.”

I love my current wristwatch — which presents a curious thought: Will Apple have an easier time selling Apple Watch to those who currently wear no watch, over those who do? 

The Apple Watch: A Distraction Free mode for your iPhone

You need an iPhone to use an Apple Watch — but what if the upcoming smart watch makes you use the required phone less?

Ahead of Monday’s Spring Forward event I’m seeing more and more articles exploring how apps may work on the wrist-friendly device, how folks expect to use their Apple Watch in their day-to-day lives and what the watch could be used for going forward.

All of these speculative articles have one common thread — brevity.

A lot of the writing on how people are going to use the watch centres around quick, actionable experiences. A tap here, a glance there. This all leads me to one hopeful belief: the Apple Watch will not only tell you the time, it’ll save it.

Of course, with every new technology we are promised time-saving efficiency and increased leisure, yet “instead of consuming the time-saving benefits”, we find “other ways of filling up the time“.

Now, I’m fairly sure the Apple Watch won’t meaningfully change this pattern. You probably won’t be more productive, just less distracted — or so I hope.

The scenario I outline below is one I’m sure a large number of you can relate too:

You get a notification, be it an important email (that you must look at right this instance, of course) or a pressing text message from a loved one.

What then starts as innocently picking up of your phone to quickly respond, turns into a 15-to-20 minute round trip of your home screen. Double-tapping some fancy pics on Instagram, scanning your Twitter timeline, viewing your latest Snapchats and liking a friends dumb status on Facebook.

Before you know it, a half-hour has passed, your coffee has gone cold and you’ve forgotten what you were working on (and, if you’re like me, you probably never even got to replying that text). Distractions, distractions, distractions.

At least with the Apple Watch, the design of the device will force you into certain behaviour. Can I deal with this notification here on my wrist? Is this worth getting my phone out of my pocket?

Some things will be actionable directly from the Apple Watch — a few taps, and done. If not, ignore for later. For me, that is where the value lies: making snap decisions, and being concise in your actions.

The Apple Watch may just be the distraction free mode your iPhone needed.