I almost fell asleep during the Apple keynote.
Not for any other reason than the fact that the latest iPhone 11 model is a bit underwhelming, and the iPad is only slightly larger this go around. There wasn't any of the usual magic, and these massive keynote events seem perfunctory or even rote.
Yet, about 30 minutes into the presentation something dramatic happened.
In pre-recorded videos, Apple Watch users explained how the device had saved them from a serious injury. In one testimony, a woman described how the Watch had alerted her to a pregnancy-related problem. The gadget can notify medical personnel when you fall and inform you about an irregular heartbeat.
I already knew about some of the amazing health-related features on the Apple Watch and I've become a fan in recent years, but these videos and a major announcement highlighted an extraordinary turn of events that should make you sit up and take note.
Apple has partnered with several institutions--such as the University of Michigan, the World Health Organization, Harvard School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women's Hospital among others in a new research project. The one that interests me the most is a study that will track the effectiveness of our movements throughout the day impacts our health.
This is exciting for a few reasons, but the most important one is that I've had a few of my own health scares. In recent years, I've taken to outdoor biking routinely and going on long walks, and the fitness products I test as part of my job have become much more vital. I used to view them as a nice add-on that provides helpful data. I now see them as helping me battle some deep-seated tendencies, namely being way too sedentary.
What really struck me as that this could actually work because I've heard one of the major issues in medical research is finding enough people to participate. Known as your "sample size" it can dictate whether your findings are really accurate or not. Apple will release a new Research app for the Watch, and it could be groundbreaking because it means thousands or millions of people could provide data for new medical studies.
And, that's a tectonic shift for another reason. We all know we've become guinea pigs on social media for advertisers. Companies like Facebook and Google mine a treasure trove of data to feed us the ads that will most likely work (and it's quite shocking when they do). We're all hamsters on a spinning wheel, providing this rich data as part of a vast market research experiment--and we're the ones being experimented on.
However, the goal is to sell us a new car or an iPhone case. It's purely monetary in nature, and maybe not that egregious after all. With the Research app, I could see consumers signing up because they want to make a difference and help people, even if (not so secretly) Apple is also attempting to sell more watches.
I'll be one of the first people to download the Research app when it debuts later this year. It's not just that I want to help other people. I want to help myself.