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‘You’re going to have a heart attack’ – Apple’s iWatch could predict medical emergencies

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Most smartwatches on the market today pair with a smartphone, offering a range of notifications such as incoming calls, emails, chat messages, and social network updates. Reminders and weather reports can also flash up on the display, and it’ll even give you the time of day. Apple’s rumored iWatch, meanwhile, is thought to be focusing heavily on fitness-related features, giving wearers access to a ton of health data as they go about their day.

According to a report over the weekend, Apple is developing software and sensors to monitor the condition of a person’s heart, which means health-based notifications on Apple’s expected smartwatch could conceivably include something along the lines of, “Hey buddy, you’re about to have a heart attack.”

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Although it’s the kind of terrifying information that would be enough to, well, give you a heart attack, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Apple is serious about creating technology to help predict such a medical emergency.

Respected audio engineer Tomlinson Holman, who’s been at Apple since 2011, is apparently leading the team developing this specific piece of tech, with researchers working on software and sensors “that can predict heart attacks by identifying the sound blood makes as it tries to move through an artery clogged with plaque,” the Chronicle said. In other words, the device could warn you to seek immediate medical attention before your heart suffers potentially serious damage.

The news comes hot on the heels of a report Friday that the Cupertino company is seeking to make use of optoelectronic technology for its rumored smartwatch to enable users to monitor their heart rate and blood oxygen saturation.

Though Apple has, of course, said nothing about whether it’s even developing a smartwatch, this latest news backs up a slew of recent reports claiming its device will focus heavily on health- and fitness-related features.

The company has already hired two experts in health-related tech – Nancy Dougherty, who helped develop a Bluetooth-enabled Band-Aid capable of monitoring heart rate, breathing, and body temperature, and Ravi Narasimhan, who created d a similar kind of device while working at Vital Connect – while other reports have suggested Apple is planning to launch iOS 8 “with health and fitness tracking integration as its headline feature”.

It’s thought the company is working on an app called Healthbook, which will offer users a myriad of health-related stats, including steps taken, miles walked, and calories burned. Information on blood pressure, hydration levels, heart rate and possibly glucose levels may also be offered by the app via Apple’s wrist-based tech.

It’s not known when the company is planning to release its smartwatch, though some observers think it’s likely to land in the second half of this year priced at anywhere between $150 and $300.

You can check out our comprehensive round-up of iWatch rumors, leaks and chit-chat here.

[Image: Martin Hajek]

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