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Apple job postings hint at chips for processing health data (likely for the Apple Watch)

CNBC reports that recent Apple job listings show the tech giant has a team exploring a custom processor that can make better sense of health information coming off sensors from inside its devices.

A July 10 job posting from Apple’s Health Sensing hardware team says, “We are looking for sensor ASIC architects to help develop ASICs for new sensors and sensing systems for future Apple products. We have openings for analog as well as digital ASIC architects.”

As CBNC notes, it’s not clear what the sensors would measure, but it appears to be information from the body. An Aug. 1 posting said simply that the team wants to bring on an engineer who can “help develop health, wellness, and fitness sensors.” And a June job listing shows the team is looking to keep working with optical sensors. Currently available Apple Watches have optical sensors that can measure heart rate.

Along the same lines, Apple is apparently testing whether the Apple Watch can detect cardiac abnormalities. The company is working on the tests with partners including Stanford and telemedicine company American Well.

If successful, the move could turn the watch into a must have device for millions of patients. Arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms, aren’t always problematic. But in some people, a condition known as atrial fibrillation can show no external symptoms while carrying a risk of blood clots, strokes and other complications.

For that reason, an Apple Watch could be a useful screening tool for high-risk patients — if its heart rate monitor proves to be sufficiently sensitive and accurate,  notes Reuters. The smartwatch has already been used in studies to screen for heart rhythm abnormalities.

In a joint study published in May 2017, app developer Cardiogram and researchers at the University of California, San Francisco said the Apple Watch combined with Cardiogram’s algorithm showed the smartwatch’s sensors can differentiate between a normal heart rhythm and atrial fibrillation (AF). In fact, the study identified AF with 97% accuracy.


Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.