This week we saw Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) make corporate history by reporting a record quarterly profit of $18 billion in net income, largely in part to selling more than 74.5 million iPhones in the last three months of 2014.
While most view Apple as a consumer goods and electronic equipment company, those wearing technology lenses are starting to realize they actually have a strong play as an emerging biotech company.
Sound crazy? Let me explain…
In 2014, Apple’s biggest announcement wasn’t about a larger iPhone, it was the introduction of the HealthKit. It was their first public attempt of entering into the health care industry.
I say public, because Apple has been building their iPhones with micro-electromechanical sensors (MEMS) for years now and they are the underlying technology behind tracking basic health metrics such as activity, sleep and heart rate.
However, until this past year, the software associated with taking advantage of these finely tuned sensors and displaying their hordes of data was not commercially available on the iPhone.
And it’s here where HealthKit came into play.
Think of HealthKit as the “iTunes” of the health tracking industry. Apple revolutionized the music industry by creating a one-stop shop platform where everyone could buy songs on demand for just 99 cents.
HealthKit is revolutionizing the health care industry by creating a central hub for all your fitness and health data to be collected, displayed and distributed.
The application has been engineered to collect data from numerous health tracking devices — not only from your iPhone — and it was also built with interfaces for software developers to easily pull the data for use in health apps you can download from the Apple App store.
Once again, we’re seeing a major shift in how we use our mobile communication devices.
Many of us switched from flip phones to smartphones in the mid-2000s in order to take advantage of email, Internet and GPS on the go. Now our smartphones will be even more sophisticated by tracking our health and providing vital data to physicians who can leverage this to make better decisions for diagnosis and follow-up treatment.
Remember the days of Star Trek and watching Captain Kirk speak into his communication device to say to Scotty: “Beam me up!” Today with wearable health trackers that link to smartphones, Captain Kirk can tell Scotty to check his heart rate, temperature and blood pressure as well.
The Apple Watch is rolling out this year and will be considered Apple’s first true medical device since it is chock-full of highly advanced sensors that constantly gather data off your wrist. The first generation will track activity just like regular fitness trackers, provide access to apps for messaging, email and… tell time.
Apple does have some stiff competition from Google, Microsoft and Samsung in the health tracking space. Google is developing sensors that can be packaged into Band-Aids, clothing, and even contact lenses.
Their contact lens can measure glucose levels in a person’s tears and transmit the data via an antenna thinner than a human hair. This will be a major game changer for those with diabetes who constantly have to prick their fingers for blood sampling.
At the end of the day we’re all turning into big walking sensors, which should hopefully improve the way we live our lives. With groundbreaking advances in sensor technology, the industry has found a way to take our regular old phones and watches and essentially turn us into low orbiting space crafts.
How do we take advantage of this new wave of health care tracking? I’ve outlined one approach in a special report for my Biotech Intel Trader service and it centers on setting your sights on advanced sensor and chip makers who own patents to this technology and sell it to the big device manufacturers such as Apple.
As always, I will continue to monitor the market’s latest health and biotech technology trends via my social media collective intelligence tool and keep you updated on the latest trends.