ABC News this morning revealed an exclusive behind-the-scenes video of Apple’s testing facility for the upcoming Apple Watch, showing off dozens of Apple employees covered in various sensor-tracking technology used to gather data for the health and fitness areas of the wearable device. Apple executives Jeff Williams and Jay Blahnik accompanied ABC on a tour of the facility.
Employees of the company, from engineers to managers and developers, have volunteered to participate in the tests for nearly two years, not knowing of the reason behind the facility until recently. Wearing masks that measure changes in breathing and other various statistics, the volunteers were put through various workout regimens including rowing, yoga, and running, in order to collect data for the Watch.
Apple Watch was first unveiled last September and it’s slated to be in stores next month. Ranging in price from $349 for the Apple Watch Sport to $17,000 for the 18-carat gold Apple Watch Edition, the watch contains a “health kit,” which can track everything from your heart rate, calories burned, distance walked and how much the user stands per day.
The lab, Blahnik said, also used “climate chambers,” to have fitness participants test the watch in different environments, and then they would actually have employees go to different places around the world.
“We have traveled to Alaska and gone to Dubai to really test Apple Watch in all those environments, but we also wanted to be able to have a controlled environment here where we could see those extremes,” he said.
Dr. Michael McConnell, a professor in cardiovascular medicine at Stanford Medicine who also directs Stanford’s cardiovascular health innovation program, said Apple’s new health efforts that include ResearchKit will be a game changer in cardiovascular technology.
“We can use the power of something that they carry with them every day to help with measurements and surveys,” he said. “I think it is offering us a new way to do medical research.”
The more a user wears the Apple Watch, the more health data it can collect, and over time, Blahnik said that can be a powerful force in the fitness tech market.
“I think we’ve amassed already what may be one of the world’s largest pieces of data on fitness,” he said. “Our view is, we’re just beginning. We think there’s a lot to this fitness thing…the impact on health could be profound.”