BlackBerry mulls entry into wearables market

Struggling enterprise smartphone maker BlackBerry is mulling a move into wearables and conducting "internal experimentation," according to a PC Magazine report.

However, the company is not yet near to announcing a smartwatch, though a company leader is clearly eager to get BlackBerry Messenger on such a device.

"I would love BBM to be running on a wearable," John Sims, BlackBerry's enterprise chief, told PC Magazine. "We're not releasing anything at the moment, but it's definitely an area of research for us."

BlackBerry is looking into how a wearable would work "from an applications perspective," and the integration of a voice component, according to the PC Magazine report. The research effort includes both potential smartwatches and smart glasses, according to a Computerworld report.

In late July, BlackBerry subsidiary QNX Software Systems debuted a new OS just for medical devices, one that promises to meet industry standards and cut the cost of mHealth device development. The QNC OS for Medical 1.1, which BlackBerry states complies with IEC 62304, will help manufacturers attain regulatory approval from federal oversight agencies.

In mid-April, the handset maker announced it was partnering with NantHealth to collaborate on mHealth devices. Later that same month, it announced it would offer Axial Exchange's patient engagement app in its app store for several BlackBerry modes.

The wearable research news comes within a week of Apple's celebrated launch of Apple Watch, its first-ever wearable, which comes in three models, including a fitness-focused Watch Sport option. Apple offered very little detail on the healthcare aspects beyond noting a Nike app and other fitness app features.

If and when BlackBerry enters the wearables market, Apple won't be the only big contender. Samsung's been at the forefront in wearables with six products already in market. Google continues to advance its mHealth efforts, such as Google Glass, and its Google Fit mHealth platform, and more than a few start-ups are already gaining traction due to strong venture capital funding. 

A new ABI Research report predicts nearly 100 million wearable monitoring devices will ship over the next five years, spurred by consumer interest and increasing awareness of how mHealth can boost healthcare-related activities and patient treatment.

To learn more:
- read the PC Magazine report
- check out the Computerworld report

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