Wanted: Medical sensor experts to work on Apple iWatch

Apple continues to hire engineers and managers with expertise in developing medical sensors to work on its iWatch wristwatch-like device, reports Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac

According to Gurman, over the past couple of months, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company "has been seeking even more engineering prowess to work on products with medical sensors." Most recently, he points out, "two notable people from the medical sensor world joined Apple to work on the team behind the iWatch's hardware vision," hiring away Nancy Dougherty, the former head of hardware development at startup Sano Intelligence, and Ravi Narasimhan, previously vice president of research and development for general medical devices firm Vital Connect.

In particular, Dougherty's work at Sano Intelligence included a small, painless patch attached on the arm that leverages needle-less technologies to read and analyze a user's blood. 

Gurman predicts that if this technology is "integrated into a mass-produced product with the Apple brand," similar to what the company has done with its popular lines of music players and tablets, "it could take medical sensor technology and health monitoring to mainstream levels."

Earlier this month, Google announced its plans for contact lenses designed to monitor and measure glucose levels in tears, potentially replacing the self-administered blood tests from finger pricks that diabetics must endure on a daily basis. The contact lenses, which use a tiny glucose sensor and wireless transmitter, will not be available to consumers until at least 2019. 

In related news, the Consumer Electronics Association last month announced new research indicating that consumer interest in purchasing dedicated wearable fitness devices in the next 12 months quadrupled to 13 percent in 2013, from just three percent in 2012, making it the largest year-over-year increase for any category of fitness device. 

Potential buyers of fitness technology devices expressed the most interest in capabilities such as tracking statistics like heart rate (95 percent), calories burned (94 percent) and steps taken (92 percent). According to CEA, dedicated wearable fitness devices tripled in ownership from 2012 (three percent) to 2013 (nine percent). Moreover, the group found that these devices experienced the largest gain in purchase intent (10 percentage points) compared to 2012, more than quadrupling from three percent in 2012.

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