Interview with Apple COO Jeff Williams and the health team: Technology should improve every aspect of health

The beginning of the Apple Watch can be traced back nine years ago.

That year, Apple launched a volunteer recruiting internally. For a technology company whose headquarters is mainly based on technology research and development, it is common for internal employees to participate in product testing.

But this testing job is downright drudgery. Outside of work, Apple employees need to come to this secret location ten minutes from the Infinite Loop to continue to shine for the company.

It was not until September 10, 2014, that these volunteers realized that the prototype device strapped to their body before each exercise turned out to be the Apple Watch on the big screen. And they participated in building the core algorithm of this new product.

Before the birth of the Apple Watch, quantifying the self was already a fashionable term. You could buy a sports bracelet for less than 100 yuan. Step counting is a standard feature of this type of product, so that the marketing phrase of "walking 10,000 steps a day" It is like "a lasting one" that is deeply rooted in the hearts of the people.

Enter the height, gender, weight, combined with the heart rate sensor, the bracelet can estimate the physical consumption. And this data credibility is like a black box, everything depends on the algorithm.

Rather than buying off-the-shelf algorithms, Apple built a lab, recruited volunteers, and spent years accumulating data on its own.

Hope to make fitness into Apple's DNA. We're bound to make mistakes by doing everything ourselves, and we'll fall out with bruises. But this allows us to figure out the process.

Jay Blahnik is Apple's vice president of fitness technology. Before joining Apple, he was a well-known fitness trainer in the circle, a guest health expert for MSNBC and the Los Angeles Times, and wrote a best-selling book on fitness topics.

Six years ago, he took me on a tour of the Apple Fitness Lab, which despite being top-secret, looked like a gym. The only difference is that everyone exercising wears a blue breathing mask and is accompanied by a nurse with an iPad monitoring the data.

Jay told me that the mask, called a metabolic cart, is used to calculate oxygen metabolism during exercise, which is the most accurate way to count calories.

Scientific rigor and protection of privacy are two fundamental principles of our work.

In an exclusive interview with Ai Faner, Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams emphasized this. And this scientific and rigorous approach continues the eighth year of Apple Watch.

watchOS9, released last week, added three metrics for running posture—vertical amplitude, measured stride length, and bottoming time. Jay Blanhik said these features came from recommendations from advanced runners, such as vertical amplitude, which is a measure of how much you can move up and down. If the amplitude is too large, it means that too much energy is used to move up instead of forward.

However, it is not easy to measure the indicators of the body only by the wrist, and it is necessary to use the arm swing to infer the movement of the trunk. This is done by using machine learning and sensor fusion, including accelerometers and gyroscopes, to isolate torso motion and measure the resulting vertical amplitude.

Jay Blahnik says:

Members of the Health Lab team studied runners, the relationship between arm swing and shoulder motion, stride length, touchdown time, and vertical amplitude while running. This allows us to accurately measure these data without adding additional sensors to the foot or shoe.

At the beginning of the Apple Watch, fitness and health were only a selling point of the Apple Watch, and Apple hoped that it would provide more accurate health data than the competition until Apple received more and more users.

Letters from many users tell us that the Apple Watch sent reminders that saved their lives. This inspires and motivates us to make great strides in wellness.

The only thunderous applause and climax at the September 12, 2018 event came when Jeff Williams announced the addition of an electrocardiogram (ECG) to the Apple Watch, the first time a wearable device offered medical-grade functionality.

As Apple's COO , Jeff Williams directly drives the company's health initiatives and medical research. As one of the largest wearable devices at present, Apple Watch is expected to provide massive data samples for the treatment of some intractable diseases.

While other companies are still following the Apple Watch's electrocardiogram function, Apple has entered the upper reaches of the medical field with a larger vision. A year later, Apple's Research app expanded the scope of medical research by an order of magnitude. Users can sign up for three major medical programs – women's health, heart and exercise, and hearing research.

The idea of ​​using crowdsourcing for medical research comes from the ResearchKit project announced 7 years ago. A tool that turns the iPhone into a medical research tool, with the participant's permission, the ResearchKit app captures data from accelerometers, gyroscopes, microphones, and GPS to gain insight into participants' activity levels , sports injuries, memory, etc.

In the past, smart terminals represented by smartphones usually existed in the form of "things outside the body". For the first time, smart watches tied digital tools to the wrist, with more abundant sensors and always-connected networks, allowing "quantified self". Everything will fall into place.

I think one of the challenges with health is that people simply don't think about their health all the time. But wearing a watch is much better, because monitoring is integrated into people's daily lives.

Jeff Williams said.

Menstrual periods, for example, although an important health indicator, are usually only mentioned during Pap tests or contraceptive counseling. And many menstrual recording apps on the market are designed with narrow metaphors, recording menstruation is not for contraception, but for pregnancy.

Apple hopes to find the relationship between menstruation and infertility, heart health and menopause, and then serve for early screening and risk assessment of gynecological diseases. That's why menstrual research has also become part of Apple's women's health research .

Dr. Shruthi Mahalingaiah of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said that despite the link between polycystic ovary syndrome and heart disease, previous heart health research has never collected menstrual cycle information.

Dr. Sumbul Desai has been involved in a series of collaborations and research between Apple and institutions in the medical field. Before joining Apple Health as Vice President, she was a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at Stanford University.

According to her, these studies have led to the implementation of some new features. For example, the Apple Watch can already predict menstruation more accurately through heart rate.

In addition, the walking stabilization feature on the iPhone is also the result of Apple's heart and exercise study, which collected data on 100,000 subjects.

From the initial heart rate monitoring, to ECG drawing, to sleep monitoring, blood oxygen measurement, fall detection, menstrual tracking, hand washing duration, medication reminders, atrial fibrillation history… Apple Watch's health functions now cover all aspects of life. While providing convenience to users, it is also providing valuable data for the medical field, and these studies are also invisibly feeding back the hardware iteration and growth of Apple Watch.

This is a spontaneous process. Because people use their Apple Watch and iPhone every day, we have an opportunity to help people go further on their health journey.

At the end of the interview, I asked Jeff Williams, "What is Apple's ideal relationship between digital tools and health?"

Jeff Williams says:

The core of medical services has always been the relationship between doctors and patients, and technology can improve the civilianization of health and facilitate the exchange of information between users and doctors.

Born in the wind, but growing in the ebb tide, Apple Watch, as the first post-Jobs product, has gone through eight years of history. As an accessory that is highly dependent on the iPhone, it may not be able to reach the commercial height of the iPod and iPhone. , but it has injected health into the DNA of the company.

In a previous interview with Fastcompany , Cook talked about how Apple considers whether to enter a new market and threw three soul questions:

What is the main technology behind it? What can we bring? Can it make a significant contribution to society through it?

If you look back years later and ask the question, "What is Apple's greatest contribution to humanity?"

Perhaps one answer is health.

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