Apple’s next big project will likely be something related to health. While that speculation is rather broad, there are a few factors that point to that conclusion — mostly in the form of what the company’s recent job listings can tell us.
Whatever it is, it’s unlikely to be related to the rumored Apple Watch 2, as Apple CEO Tim Cook himself suggested otherwise in an interview with The Telegraph last year.
“We don’t want to put the watch through the Food and Drug Administration process,” Cook said in the interview. “I wouldn’t mind putting something adjacent to the watch through it, but not the watch, because it would hold us back from innovating too much, the cycles are too long. But you can begin to envision other things that might be adjacent to it — maybe an app, maybe something else.”
Since the fall of 2015, Buzzfeed has found that Apple has posted four job listings for biomedical engineers and a lab technician, and the company has hired at least five people with medical research and development experience, according to their LinkedIn profiles.
Requirements on one of the biomedical engineer postings are: previous experience with medical, health, wellness and/or fitness sensors, devices, and applications; good understanding of non-invasive sensors used to measure biological signals; and general understanding of human physiology.
And according to Buzzfeed, a handful of LinkedIn profiles also show Apple grabbing established medical professionals, including Anne Shelchuk, who previously worked at Zonare Medical Systems, Inc., VytronUS, and St. Jude Medical. According to her profile, Selchuk has a doctorate in biomedical engineering and left her position as director of Product Definition at Zonare, an ultrasound software company, in November.
Craig Slyfield is a mechanical engineer that has work published in the Journal of Microscopy, Journal of Bone, and the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, related to visualizing human bones in 3D. He joined Apple in November as well, and works in the Apple product design: simulation and analysis department.
Biomedical engineer Jay Mung also joined Apple after working at medical technology and services company Medtronic for nearly two years, according to his LinkedIn profile. He says he led “sensor algorithm R&D for a next generation continuous glucose monitor product,” at Medtronic, and his graduate school dissertation project featured a framework that tracked the 3D position of a catheter in real time.
Equally informative was the fact that Jennifer Hillier was hired by Apple in November. She is an exercise physiologist who has monitored physiological signs. She’s now a biomedical engineer at Apple, and her job description is “Top Secret.”
What do we make of all this? Apple is certainly looking to build on its health-related products, which right now mostly include Healthkit and the Apple Watch — but could we see, as Cook hinted, a solely health-related device or app? We’ll keep you updated.