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Health & Sport Implications of Apple’s Lifestream Glasses

What their patent reveals about future human-focused products

I. Overview

Nearly two years ago, Apple published a patent with a drawing that they referred to as “Lifestream Glasses”. Snap’s new Spectacles are the first sign of an emerging trend in wearables. Namely, moving from bulbeous, helmet-like head apparatus to something that normal people actually want to wear on their face. You know, like glasses.

To that end, it’s not much of a leap to predict that Apple would eventually make a glasses wearable product, but more profound that they had envisioned the health sensors being a major part of the product.

We say that because, until the Apple Watch 2, it was less understood to their marketing team that it would end up becoming a sports-related product focused on health and activity and less on productivity. It’s hard to type an email on a watch face. But it’s so much easier to have it automatically read your changes in heart rate.

Of course, it was obvious to us.

II. Lifestream Glasses Health Sensors

In the photo below, you see the arrows pointing to a number of sensors on a pair of normal eyeglasses. As we mentioned in our last Newsletter, it included passing references to physiological elements, including encephalogram, electromyogram, pneugraph, photoplethysmogram.

Patent drawing from Apple’s Lifestream Glasses filing.

Because most of us never went to med school, we had to google each of those terms. Allow us to summarize what we found:

  • Encephalogram: electrical activity of the brain. You might be familiar with those little plastic suction cup electrodes stuck to the side of your scalp and the term EEG. That’s this.
  • Electromyogram: electrical activity of the muscles. It’s used to study the biomechanics of human movement.
  • Pneugraph: records the velocity and force of chest movements while breathing.
  • Photoplethysmogram: records changes of light absorption in the skin. You already know how this works due to the Apple Watch reading your pulse with green light.

Take all of these things together. Electrical activity of the brain and muscles, the intensity of your breath, and your heart rate. What you’ve got then is full understanding of a human body’s reaction to strenuous activity. Something we colloquially like to refer to as “sport”.

Are you starting to get it. A phone. A music player. An internet navigator. These aren’t seperate items. They’re one.

What started as a Watch, is really just a series of Wearables that read an entire human’s body for lifelogging purposes. Eventually, we would expect machine learning to run over the top of that and provide insights and predictions for your health.

We’ve written about this before as part of the Health 2.0 megatrend and the Future of Sports Tech (see the patent filing picture about halfway down the page).

There are a few things fishy with this patent though. Like how are you supposed to reach chest compressions by wearing glasses. To me it seems like a bit of a sideways way to protect what you’re really trying to do without going full bore and giving away details about a Watch or secret Smart Clothes partnership with Nike.

IV. Potential Health Implications

On the positive side, there are a lot of potential benefits to this. As the old adage goes, you optimize what you measure. So, the more you measure the physical output of your body in an athletic situation, the more likely you are to not have that extra beer or french fries, the more likely you are to push a little harder, and the more likely you are to win.

It will give you a leg up in the beginning but as it becomes standard practice for your competitors, using these types of metabolic and biomechanic optimizations will become table stakes. At the highest level of sport, where a millimeter can mean the difference between a gold medal and not placing, this stuff matters. Unless you’re Katie Ledecky.

Unfortunately, there’s also a negative aspect to this technology, which pains me to write about because I do believe there are more benefits than detractions.

There is a lesser known and even lesser talked about issue at play behind closed doors at Apple and other major manufacturers of wearable technlogies. Namely that the amount of wireless signals we have propogating through our bodies has reached an all-time high. And with the current trend, it’s only going to increase.

For example, do you know that Apple publishes an RF Exposure page, required by law, warning you not to put certain products near your body for extended periods of time? For example, it tells you to keep the Apple Watch at least 10mm away from your face to limit exposure levels. It also tells us how to use the iPhone 7 safely.

To reduce exposure to RF energy, use a hands-free option, such as the built-in speakerphone, the supplied headphones, or other similar accessories. Carry iPhone at least 5mm away from your body to ensure exposure levels remain at or below the as-tested levels.

Seems a bit counterintuitive to publicly print a health warning against one of your future-focused products. Reminds me of another product that offered similar “health” benefits in the past. Smoke menthol cigarettes to help your sore throat.

Many people are sensitive to WiFi, Bluetooth, cellular signals so much so that they’ve had to move to military bases where all radio signals are illegal and non-existent. Personally, I have a family member and a friend who gets a tingling sensation when wearing the Apple Watch for mere moments, putting a laptop on their legs for extended periods of time, or holding smart phones.

Digital Natives are the first generation who have had this type of radiation propogating throughout their bodies their entire lives. We don’t yet know what this will lead to, but you can be damn sure if there are health warnings printed on the legal page of the world’s most profitable seller, you shouldn’t take these things lightly.

Me, I wore an Apple Watch for a year. It hasn’t touched my wrist in the last two months. I put it back on this Saturday to see what would happen during my workout. As soon as I put it on, my arm started tingling. I shut it off.

This type of exposure builds exponentially, so what starts off slow and unnoticable eventually becomes very noticeable with even small bits of exposure.

Protect yourself and your family. I have a feeling we’ll be looking back in 20 years on the wearables that were supposed to help our health, actually ended up hindering it.


Read More

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Health & Sport Implications of Apple’s Lifestream Glasses was originally published in Humanizing Tech on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

from Stories by Sean Everett on Medium http://ift.tt/2fOtfVv