Smartwatches feed health data to IBM supercomputer

A massive IBM supercomputer will crunch healthcare information siphoned directly from Apple Watches and iPhones around the world, the two tech giants have revealed.

The colossal volume of data will then be processed and made available to medical and pharmaceutical researchers around the world as they search for solutions to some of the planet’s greatest healthcare challenges.

“As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, we continue to gather more and more data from existing and new sources, such as claim records, health risk assessments, hospital records, physicians’ offices, paper files in case worker/social worker offices, wellness programs, and wearable devices such as FitBit, Jawbone and soon the Apple Watch,” says Lauren Hurley on IBM’s healthcare and life sciences blog.

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“Most of this data is sitting on a shelf getting dusty. But pulling together all of these individual sources of data holds great potential: the potential to transform the healthcare experience for the individual. We are missing out on the opportunity to shape this comprehensive data to create impactful insights for the consumer, making the data actionable,” she adds.

The heart of the solution is a supercomputing system called IBM Watson Health Cloud, which will bring together clinical, research and social data from a diverse range of health sources, creating a secure, cloud-based data sharing hub, powered by the most advanced cognitive and analytic technologies.

“People today want more information to inform the decisions they make about their health. Many different factors affect one’s health: nutrition, lifestyle, medical history – and today, much of this information can be captured in data. Personal fitness trackers, wearable health monitors, and other connected devices are generating more and more data every day. But without a glimpse into all the information out there, individuals only receive a fragmented view of the whole picture,” IBM asserts in its Watson Health Cloud literature.

Apple Watches will collect vast amounts of potentially useful lifestyle and health information. A heart rate sensor can help gauge your intensity during workouts to improve overall calorie tracking. It connects to the GPS in your iPhone to help measure the distance you travel during the day or during workouts that can’t be measured in steps, such as cycling. And an accelerometer measures total body activity, counts your steps and helps calculate your calories burned throughout the day.

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