Hand washing for the Apple Watch was well placed next to the masks for Memojis in the list of features related to COVID-19, which the company introduced in a speech last week at WWDC. This is a pedestrian action that we take for granted several times a day. However, over the past five months, hand washing has gained some central importance in our daily lives – what to focus on and what to do.
We all read the WHO and CDC guidelines and shared (and possibly even created) some millions of memes on the lyrics, emphasizing how long it takes to clean our hands enough and avoid the transmission of the virus. It also hurt us all to realize how long it took 20 seconds to feel when you stood in front of the bathroom sink.
However, unlike other hasty initiatives undertaken by the company after the advent of the virus, the upcoming Apple Watch handwashing application was not developed overnight. This feature was the result of “many years of work,” said Kevin Lynch, vice president of technology in an interview with TechCrunch. According to the manager, this typical Apple product was the result of many years of trial and error.
Of course, this is not the first SmartWatch application that solves this commonplace action. Samsung was fast to the market to introduce the Galaxy Watch app, designed for users to wash their hands for the allotted time. But the Apple version works alongside healthcare features like the Noise app, and uses the device’s built-in sensors to provide smart apps that contribute to the overall health of the wearable device.
This feature, which is built directly into a future version of watchOS, is designed to track fitness in several ways. For starters, if the user turns it on, it is designed to automatically start when a hand wash is detected, starting a 20-second countdown timer. An accelerometer is a key piece of hardware that awaits a specific handwashing pattern that obviously uses several different methods, depending on who actually performs the cleaning.
The system uses machine learning models to solve various methods, but the system receives an additional boost from the microphone of the watch. Along with movement, the app listens to the sound of running water. However, even this is not enough – in the end, eco-washes are becoming more and more popular, which means that less water sound is often heard. The sound of squishy soap will take care of this last piece. He has a unique enough sound signature to confirm that hand washing is taking place.
This feature flashes soap bubbles and buzzes with a tactile watch to encourage the wearer to go the distance – offering a “polite encouragement” if they pause. Like fitness tracking, this information is written to the Apple health app. Again, what might otherwise seem like a dumb little trait suddenly takes on a much deeper meaning, because suddenly we all find ourselves obsessed with transmitting germs.
This feature accidentally joined a number of other Apple initiatives related to COVID-19 that were introduced in the past few months. The company donated masks and built face masks and became a key player in contact tracing initiatives.
In particular, at the Watch front, remote use was opened for doctors who wanted to monitor patients’ ECG readings without risking exposure to the virus for either side. However, Apple does not currently claim that Watch can help diagnose the virus. “Although we have not specifically studied how the Apple Watch can track COVID, we are pleased to support the study by the medical community. We truly support their initiatives by letting our colleagues in space, and we are happy to see what they are studying, ”said TechCrunch Apple Vice President of Health Sumbul Ahmad Desai.
At the moment, the company has nothing specific to share on this front, but it’s easy to understand how researchers will be interested in using such a widely used device to detect and diagnose such a viral and fatal disease. In May Fitbit announced that it was in the early stages of working with researchers precisely on this.