Top Story, Devices & Diagnostics

Tim Cook hints that Apple could make a medical device, but it won’t be the Watch

Taking the Apple Watch through FDA testing in order for it to become a regulated medical device won’t be practical, according to Tim Cook. But a separate product could be in the works down the road.

Apple could eventually branch out and create an actual medical device, at least CEO Tim Cook says it’s a possibility. It won’t come in the form of additional Apple Watch features, though, which is the first time this has been stated explicitly.

In an interview yesterday with The Telegraph, Cook made it clear that any presumptions about future Apple Watches containing medical sensors beyond things like fitness trackers and heart rate monitors won’t be happening because the company doesn’t want to go through the process of Food and Drug Administration testing with the Watch. He said doing that would slow down its release cycle and “hold [Apple] back from innovating.”

But that doesn’t mean a separate medical device couldn’t eventually be released alongside the Watch.

Cook told The Telegraph that he “wouldn’t mind putting something adjacent to the Watch through” FDA testing. “You can begin to envision other things that might be adjacent to it — maybe an app, maybe something else.”

Because products only need FDA approval if they are designed to diagnose or treat diseases, whatever this hypothetical adjacent product could be would involve much more than what the Watch is capable of.

Although the Watch won’t become a regulated, government-licensed health product, Cook still made a point to highlight some of the significant health benefits it can provide. He gave an example in which the Watch saved a young man’s life with its heart rate monitor.

“He is an football player, a senior in high school. He learned from his watch that his heart rate was elevated; he mentioned it to his trainer who became very worried about it. He sent him to the doctor and the doctor told him he would have died the following day had he not come in. Basically his organs were shutting down.”

Photo: Flickr user Markus Spiering