Wearable fitness bands are all the rage, if Fitbit's soaring initial public offering last week is any indication, but Google's entry in the market isn't designed simply to track steps while looking chic: it's all about giving doctors and researchers constant data on their patients.
Bloomberg revealed today that Google is working on a "health-tracking wristband," but rather than target the consumer market, it'll be provided to patients from medical professionals. "Our intended use is for this to become a medical device that’s prescribed to patients or used for clinical trials," said Google's Andy Conrad, head of the life sciences division.
Can you imagine walking into your pharmacy and leaving with a wristband? It could happen. Designed by the Google X research team, the band can track your pulse, skin temperature, and heart rhythm, says the report, along with environmental data like noise levels and light exposure. (Yes, but can it tell the time? We actually don't know just yet.)
The above image isn't in the original report, but Engadget and others are attributing it to Google. The band is rather utilitarian in design, as seen, and isn't meant to compete with Android Wear or other offerings. But if you're taking part in a medical trial or need consistent monitoring by your doctor, it could be a very beneficial thing to have on your wrist. Maybe it'll be a worthwhile companion to Google's own smart contact lenses.
And Google is thinking large-scale for the device, even if it won't be widely available at stores. "I envision a day, in 20 or 30 years, where physicians give it to all patients,” said Conrad, imagining a future in which wearable tech is truly omnipresent. "Prevention means all the time."