- Alphabet's research organization Verily has debuted an investigational device aimed at collecting health data for research purposes.
- The Verily Study Watch has no forward-facing features allowing the wearer to see the data, which is encrypted for safety and privacy.
- Verily has already tagged the watch for studies on Parkinson’s disease and longitudinal health. The company hopes to use it in more health areas in the future.
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has continued to invest in healthcare this year. A number of its former employees have also gone on to launch digital health startups.
In addition, Verily became more involved in healthcare last year. French pharmaceutical manufacturer Sanofi and Verily announced a joint venture in September 2016 aimed at creating tools for diabetes management. Verily also partnered with 3M to develop tools for population health management in October 2016.
Tech giants have been eyeing the healthcare industry for the past several years as the use of digital technologies continues to grow. Last week, CNBC reported that Apple has hired a top-secret team of biomedical engineers to develop sensors for blood sugar monitoring and diabetes management. The company which makes ResearchKit, HealthKit and CareKit also waded into the personal health records space with last year’s purchase of Gliimpse. IBM and Microsoft also have digital health ventures in the works.
Study Watch incorporates multiple physiological and environmental sensors for measuring and detecting signals for cardiovascular, movement and other disorders — including heart rate, electrocardiogram, electrodermal activity and inertial movement. It also has a powerful process to support real-time algorithms and firmware that supports over-the-air updates, new algorithms and user interface upgrades.
The device, which is not available for sale to individuals, has a battery life of up to one week and internal storage capacity for weeks worth of raw data, according to Verily. Researchers can access the data after they are uploaded to the cloud.