About a year ago Google X showed off the prototype for a health-focused smartwatch (pictured above) designed for medical research. We haven’t heard much since, but it turns out the company is still hard at work on the device.
The smartwatch is currently being developed by Verily, the health-focused firm spun out of Google X and currently operating under umbrella company Alphabet. MIT Technology Review got a look at the device but wasn’t allowed to take any photos. Details are also pretty scarce too, but it sounds like Verily’s smartwatch could offer some powerful medical capabilities.
First off, the design has changed significantly. It’s now a circular smartwatch with an E-Ink display, which should mean longer battery life. Verily chief technology officer Brian Otis told MIT Technology Review that the company is focused on “low power.”
Verily’s also pretty far along in the development process. It’s already produced “more than hundreds” of units, according to Otis. The company is apparently building the entire device from scratch. It’s even using its own modified processors.
The watch is mostly focused on measuring the user’s heart rate, and Otis describes it as a “Cardiac and Activity Monitor.” It features an outer ring that could be used to measure heart activity, along with LED’s that flash into the skin to record the same data. The underside of the device also packs four metal pads, which might also measure heart rate.
That might sound like overkill, but if Verily’s goal is to make an accurate heart rate monitor you can wear on your wrist then it makes sense to use every bit of technology available. The company won’t be selling the device directly to consumers, but it could be used for medical research and to monitor at-risk patients before too long.