Do Apple’s secret meetings with Aetna signal a new stand-alone Apple Watch?

Cold war

The folks over at Blizzard Entertainment, makers of such obscure videogames such as World of Warcraft and Overwatch – you may have heard of those – is bringing back Battle.net, it’s online platform and storefront. Well, sort of. In one of those cases where it seems the marketing department had a bit too much to drink at happy hour, Battle.net is back, but will be known as Blizzard-Battle.net, which doesn’t really roll off the tongue as well.

First launched way back in 1996, Battle.net was the portal through which gamers registered and sort of became the key platform for Blizzard in communicating with users and fans. But last fall, the Verge says Blizzard started moving away from the network, preferring to use Twitch, YouTube and Facebook for outreach. That didn’t sit very well with many fans, and now the company is returning to the Battle net, as it were, but with some extra Blizzard in tow.

The Apple Watch we all secretly want

Remember the Apple watch? Yes, it’s still for sale, and according to CNBC, Cupertino is holding super-secret meetings with insurance giant Aetna to get the watch on the wrists of millions of their customers. Over 50,000 Aetna staffers already get them as work perks, so moving onto customers seems logical. But, what’s the point if those customers are not iPhone users? That could be the real story.

Recent rumors have suggested that Apple will soon debut a new generation of the Apple Watch that will work as a stand-alone device that doesn’t need an iPhone for internet – and maybe even cell service – connectivity. If that Apple Watch does come to fruition, it could mark a massive turning point in the Apple Watch’s market – and a possible money saver for Aetna and other insurance companies.

How? Apple is said to be working on real-time blood sugar monitoring tech with the watch, which would be a huge game-changer for diabetics sick of poking themselves with needles. It could also improve their health – thereby lowering costs for Aetna. And of course, a standalone Apple Watch/phone could also be a big shift for the cell phone industry, especially for people who want minimal tech, but still want a cell phone. We could know more next month.

So far away from me

So what’s going to be the hottest new tech in cellphones? VR? AR? Maybe, but more likely, it’s depth sensing, a technology that works with both AR and VR, and many other aspects of our beloved pocket computers. Apple’s iPhone 8 will reportedly have depth-sensing facial recognition tech, and now Snapdragon chipmaker Qualcomm has announced it is going all-in on a dedicated Android digital vision system that’s really good at knowing how far away things are.

As seen in a video clip, the Qualcomm Spectra system, now in its second generation, can create a depth-accurate representation of this person playing keyboards. Pretty cool. This kind of technology, when applied to security systems, greatly cuts down on the ability to spoof and fool 3D facial recognition tech, but it could also be used to quickly map a room or space for use in a VR or AR system.

The dual-camera system basically mimics how our eyes and brain work, and can be integrated into a cell phone’s camera system. Indeed, Apple and a growing number other phone makers are already outfitting phones with dual-camera setups, ostensibly for photography, so it won’t be long until they’re put to use in AR and VR applications.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Close to the Metal (computers and such) on Tuesday, Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.