Tech firms and health concerns


Why are Google an Apple suddenly so concerned with our health. With iOS8 Apple wants to connect with peoples physique with the so called Health-app. In this Health-app people can fill in their body mass index, how much they work out, what they eat, how much sleep they will get. And when this isn’t enough even a Medical ID can be made within the application. Google just announced they are going to digitally connect patients with doctors. When people search for medical ailments on Google will get a suggestion for a video call with an actual doctor. And when this isn’t enough Google and Apple are even working together at Calico, a health company which is trying to come up with innovative solutions to the current age problems.

healthblog

These are just examples of the two major players in the business, but why are these companies so interested in our health? Or is it because the society, including me, is suddenly obsessed with being healthy and in shape? I think it is fair to say that on one hand Apple and Google are really concerned about people’s health. Especially in the United States where more than two-thirds of the adults are overweight or obese, Corporate Social Responsibility in health issues should be major thing for them (Ogden et al., 2014). It could also be turned around. When people are really more concerned about their health, Apple and Google should off course give in to that demand and come up with new apps, like discussed before and new hardware, for example smartphones with pedometers and smartwatches with heart rate and blood pressure monitors.

 

Source: Ogden C. L., Carroll, M. D., Kit, B.K., & Flegal K. M. (2014). Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. Journal of the American Medical Association, 311(8), 806-814.

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2 responses to “Tech firms and health concerns”

  1. rsmlaurens says :

    Interesting post, there are certainly many advantages for both consumers as producers in health applications. Consumers can get more insights in their health and (bad) habits, with the intention to alter those habits in a good way obviously. Producers can gain more insight as well, most in the consumers. Think of lifestyle, habits health issues and others. They are getting to know consumers better than they know themselves. This concerns me highly, because it can be used for more than advertising purposes. The information is worth a lot to insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and more. Those companies do not always have the best intentions for consumers in mind, the shareholders wants to gain as much profits as they can get. It is waiting for a scandal before governments and consumers will be more aware of those potential problems.

  2. 418490ca says :

    Hi everybody, thank you for raising this question. Indeed, it is a really interesting topic. Your blog gives a good overview of what is going on.

    First of all, as a user, I appreciate technologies like this. Indeed, our society is more health-conscious, and we pay more and more attention to how we eat, exercise and live. Being healthy is a key component of our lives.

    My favorite device in this sector is the SmartBand from Sony! See the video of the device attached. It is waterproof, discrete and even stylish. It also interacts with your smartphone. One of its advantages is that you can also regulate your sleep with it. By giving in an approximate wake up time, the device measures when you are out of your deep sleep cycle, and wakes you up at the optimal time to make sure that you are fit the whole day. Indeed, sometimes people are tired not because they have not slept enough, but because they woke up at the wrong time. In addition, the device also shows how much you exercise, or it can signal if you have an incoming call to make sure you don’t miss it. So, overall it seems to be a very interesting device.

    Nevertheless, I somehow agree with ‘rsmlaurens’, who commented on this blog. I am also concerned about my privacy and I am afraid that, since this device is also linked to my phone, my data will be automatically transmitted and can be used against me in the later stages of my life. Insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and similar entities could benefit greatly for sure.

    Indeed, it is no wonder that many investors in Silicon Valley invest now not only in IT, but also in health-related things. They could charge two sides: buyers would pay for the device, and insurance and other companies for the accumulated data gathered by the gadget. From the business perspective investments like these definitely make sense. I only hope that privacy issues will be taken into consideration.

    Below you will find my sources and the video:

    Sources: http://userguide.sonymobile.com/referrer.php?region=global-en&product=smartband-swr10#!Tracking-sleep-with-your-SmartBand.html

    Video about the Smart Band from Sony: http://youtu.be/Xue9YLqPDwg

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