“Health care is an ‘enormous’ opportunity for Apple” said Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, as he outlined how the Apple watch could become the new warning system for our body, similar to a car’s computer when it warns the drivers when something with the car needs attention. According to Cook it’s not technologically possible to monitor what’s going on in the body to the extent of what they can imagine, but it’s just a matter of time before biometric data is in the driver seat of most technologies.

When you take a closer look at the construction of the Apple watch and the latest iOS 10 Health app, it can give us an indication of the current strategy and opportunities the wearable industry has and how this will affect future marketing.

Plethysmograph

apple plethysmograph biometric data

The apple plethysmograph

Firstly, it would seem Apple’s Watch heart rate monitor is much more intelligent than what Apple is currently letting on. Studying the Apple watch patent applications, you quickly learn that Apple’s heart monitor is actually a plethysmograph. A plethysmograph is capable of measuring much more than your pulse, it can accurately measure respiration rate, changes in heart frequency and measure the oxygen levels in your blood. The same vital signs routinely monitored by medical professionals to diagnose patients.

The iOS 10 Health App

The new iOS 10 health app confirms Apples’ future plans for biometric data collection. Why would Apple include blood glucose, electrodermal activity, oxygen saturation and peak expiratory flow rate unless they had the intentions to measure this data? And what can this data be used for?

ios 10 health app biometric data

Biometric data in the new Apple health app.

 

Apple watch – the next generation Polygraph?

The most interesting parameters Apple intends to monitor in the future is Electrodermal activity (EDA). This refers to the variation of the electrical properties of the skin in response to sweat secretion. By applying a low constant voltage, the change in skin conductance (SC) can be measured non-invasively. These responses are commonly utilised today as part of a polygraph or lie detector test as skin conductance can be a measure of emotional and sympathetic responses.

Biometric data – the future of marketing?

Utilising advanced business analytics and market data, we can already target the right demographic, at the right time, at a specific physical destination. Adding biometric data would bring targeting to an entirely new level. What if emotions such as happy, sad, angry, surprised, hungry and sleepy could be part of this audience segmentation? Restaurants could target people within a 500m radius of their address knowing that you haven’t had dinner yet. Insurance companies could nudge drivers to help prevent drowsy driving and only exposing you to advertising when you’re ‘in the mood for it’.

The ability able to measure emotional responses would no doubt lead to the biggest paradigm shift in the history of marketing. As a biomedical engineer turned digital marketer, right now has never been more exciting time.