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What Apple, Google smartwatches are beginning to display about our health

Jacob Scott

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Customers try Apple Watch devices in the Apple Marunouchi store on September 07, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan.

Tomohiro Ohsumi | Getty Images

Fitness trackers from companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google are making a significant shift from being low-tech devices that counted steps to now becoming what’s fashionable in personal health.

Tracking fitness and workout data for personal use or sharing with friends can be useful and fun. But there’s an increasing interest in incorporating a wider range of medical data into the digital health ecosystem — piggybacking on the dramatic rise in remote telehealth services necessitated during the Covid-19 pandemic — making individuals’ information accessible to physicians and hospitals as part of electronic medical health records.

The wearables market got moving more than a decade ago with basic fitness, workout, and sports-activity tracking devices. Now, nearly 30% of Americans now use a wearable health care device, many of which now have the capabilities to track, monitor and transmit data on heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, body temperature, blood sugar levels, quality of sleep and even early warning signs of Covid-19 infection.

Fitbit helped launch the trend in 2009 with a clip-on gizmo that recorded the wearer’s movements, sleep and calories. That model morphed into a wrist band, which over the years added more biosensors and Bluetooth connectivity for downloading data to smartphones. Google parent Alphabet acquired Fitbit for $2.1 billion in January.

Apple entered the space in 2015 with the debut of its Watch, since adding a bevy of health-related functions and apps and spawning a platform for third-party developers to create tools utilized not only by consumers but also health care organizations and researchers for accessing and analyzing data captured on their smartwatches. It has also aligned with fitness companies like Nike, Strava and Adidas to allow them to synchronize their activity apps to the watch. In 2020, the Apple Watch generated nearly $13 billion in sales, capturing 65% of the global smartwatch market by revenue, research firm Strategy Analytics estimates.

This burgeoning market has attracted other Big Tech players, including Amazon, maker of the Halo smart band, and Huawei, which unveiled its Watch 3 this year. There also are a variety of other smartwatch entrants from the consumer electronics realm, among them Samsung, Garmin and Withings.

In the pure-play category, Finnish startup Oura designed a ring embedded with biosensors for monitoring sleep, heart rate and body temperature. In May, the company announced a $100 million Series C investment round, bringing its total funding to more than $148 million. And Peloton is reportedly planning a digital heart rate armband

The global market for wearable health and fitness devices — including sensor-laden watches, wrist bands, rings, skin patches, eyeglasses and clothing — reached more than $36 billion in 2020, according to Fortune Business Insights, and is projected to top $114 billion by 2028 at a CAGR of 15.4%. Deloitte Global predicts that the market segment just for smartwatches and smart patches will ship 320 million units worldwide in 2022, a figure likely to reach 440 million by 2024.

“There is significant money in this area from venture capital and private investment sources,” said Deloitte’s Paul Silverglate, vice chair and U.S. technology sector leader.

Several medtech companies have introduced smart patches, penny-sized swaths that adhere to the skin and use microscopic needles that act as biosensors and deliver medications. BioIntelliSense, based in Redwood City, Calif., created the BioSticker, worn on the upper left chest for continuous monitoring and data capture of respiratory rate, heart rate at rest and skin temperature. Publicly owned Insulet, based in Acton, Massachusetts, has developed OmniPod, a patch that serves as an insulin pump.

Sensorized clothing has emerged, too. Montreal-based Hexoskin developed a line of smart shirts that collect cardiac, respiratory and activity data, and transmits it to an iOS or Android compatible device. The company partnered with the Canadian Space Agency on an extraterrestrial version, Astroskin, to track astronauts’ vitals while rocketing out of this world.

Providing accurate data and information

Beyond the technological capabilities, there is now the critical issue of efficacy — of the devices, the apps that link to them and the petabytes of data generated — which is leading wearables makers to coordinate with independent researchers to see if they deliver as advertised.

Joshua Hagen, a research associate professor at The Ohio State University’s Department of Integrated Systems Engineering, was studying biosensors more than a decade ago at the Air Force Research Labs “before wearables really exploded on the scene,” he said. Hagen then started testing devices on elite athletes, monitoring their performance data. “There’s a ton of devices out there, but we have to first and foremost trust the data that’s coming off of them,” he said.

Hagen has discovered that the part of the body where a device is worn matters. The Polar heart monitor chest strap, for instance, around since the early 1980s, “has been validated a thousand different ways.” And the wrist is good for measuring resting heart rate. “But fingers are a very interesting place,” he said, referring to his studies on the Oura ring. In one, it had the second-highest accuracy among the devices, with chest straps ranking first.

Another study, launched after Covid hit, found that by applying an algorithm to Oura user data, Hagen’s team could identify early warning signs three days in advance of coronavirus infection. A separate proof-of-concept study, examining the efficacy of various wearables, showed they could detect the onset of fever, a pervasive symptom of Covid and other infections.

In November 2019, Apple partnered with research groups to launch three health studies using the Apple Watch. A women’s health project, in conjunction with the Harvard School of Public Health and the National Institutes of Health, aims to advance the understanding of menstrual cycles and their relationship to various health conditions, including infertility, osteoporosis and menopausal transition. Apple’s heart and movement study, with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the American Heart Association, is exploring how certain mobility signals and details about heart rate and rhythm could serve as potential early warning signs of atrial fibrillation, or Afib, heart disease or declining mobility.

How physicians might use the data

The ultimate scenario for health wearables envisions the general public donning smart devices, proven to be efficacious, that continuously download vital data to primary care providers who track patients in real-time, monitor their overall health and respond to any emergencies. To make that leap, however, physicians must be convinced that the devices work, patients use them properly and the data is reliable.

Toward that goal, the American Medical Association (AMA) conducted a survey of physicians to gauge their opinions on a variety of digital health tools, including wearables. More than 87% of respondents see at least some advantage in their usage overall, especially wearables and telehealth devices. Yet physicians also said there are “must-haves” that digital tools need in order to turn their enthusiasm into adoption, including improved efficiency and increased protection of patients’ data privacy and security. “Physician enthusiasm for technology is directly tied to a solution’s ability to help them take better care of patients,” said Meg Barron, AMA digital health strategy vice president.

For marketers, the most critical factor will be whether people actually buy and use wearables. “Health is a killer app category for consumers,” especially as the internet of things emerges, said Lauren Martin, senior internet and media analyst at Needham & Company. It will be increasingly helpful if users can be monitored when they’re out of the house, she said, and then have their data uploaded to their electronic medical record.

And while it remains too early to pick winners and losers, Martin said, “Apple has a play because they’ve got this great distribution network through its physical stores. So they can push the Watch when you walk into the store to buy an iPhone. Amazon can tie their health devices into Alexa [smart speakers].”

Martin is not counting out standalone players, though, and is anxious to see what emerges at January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (Covid variants permitting). “It will be interesting to figure out what new companies are doing, compared to what’s already in the marketplace,” she said.

Indeed, “Who are you wearing?” may become the next fashion axiom applied to health care.  

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Google is still ‘all in’ on health care: Chief health officer Karen DeSalvo

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‘Moon Knight’ Took Marvel in a Different Orbit, but It Didn’t Rise to the Occasion

Jacob Scott

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Before anyone writes that off as an anomaly, “Eternals” tackled a similar introduction of a dense mythology on the bigger screen, with equally mixed results. It’s a reminder that while film-goers have had more than a decade to get to know characters like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, introducing some of these lesser-known heroes can pose a more formidable challenge beyond catering to the most ardent fans.
For Marvel, there are warning signs in that, since “Moon Knight” will be followed by several series based on second-tier characters, although the next two on the horizon, “Ms. Marvel” (which is due in June) and “She-Hulk,” at least have the benefit of sharing franchises and name recognition with existing Avengers.
Ultimately, “Moon Knight’s” murky storytelling appeared to squander its principal assets, which included the cool look of the character — a costume that was too seldom used — and the presence of Isaac, who possesses additional genre credentials via the “Star Wars” sequels.

Taking its time in peeling back the layers of the character’s complicated backstory, “Moon Knight” took a weird plunge into the Egyptian mythology behind it, in ways that became increasingly confounding and surreal.

By the time the protagonist’s two halves, Steven Grant and Marc Spector, wound up in a psychiatric hospital talking to an anthropomorphic hippo in the penultimate chapter, the question wasn’t so much being able to keep up with the story as whether bothering to do so was worth the effort.

The sixth and final episode brought the plot to a messy close, seeking to stop the goddess Ammit from proceeding to “purify the souls of Cairo, and then the world.” In the customary credit sequence, the producers capped that off by introducing a third personality, Jake Lockley, also rooted in the comics. While that seemingly spelled the end for the show’s villain (Ethan Hawke), the finish — giving the god Khonshu the protégé he sought — paved the way for further adventures should Marvel so choose.

That last twist might be cause for celebration in narrower confines of the Marvel fan universe, but “Moon Knight” too often felt like it was one long Easter-egg sequence, conspicuously preaching to that choir.

Granted, Marvel has made clear that Disney+ offers the chance to explore different kinds of stories, but “Moon Knight” feels at best like a quirky showcase for Isaac and at worst a failed experiment in terms of execution and tone.

That doesn’t mean this “Moon” won’t somehow rise again, if the closely held streaming data justifies it. But the promise that surrounded this property has faded, providing further evidence that even Marvel isn’t immune from setbacks as it moves into its next phase.

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Start-up Pony.ai says it’s the first self-driving company to get a taxi license in China

Jacob Scott

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Autonomous driving start-up Pony.ai can collect fares for robotaxi rides in parts of two major Chinese cities as of Sunday.

Pony.ai handout

BEIJING — Self-driving start-up Pony.ai announced Sunday it received a taxi license, the first of its kind in China.

The license allows Pony.ai to operate 100 self-driving cars as traditional taxis in the Nansha district of the southern city of Guangzhou, the company said.

The Chinese start-up, which is backed by Toyota, received approval from Beijing city late last year to charge fees to operate a commercial robotaxi business in a suburban district of the city. It is not the same as a taxi licence.

Baidu’s Apollo Go also received approval in the same Beijing district last year.

Pony.ai was valued at $8.5 billion in early March. The company said its Nansha taxi license required 24 months of autonomous driving testing in China and/or other countries, and no involvement in any active liability traffic accidents, among other factors.

The start-up said it plans to launch commercial robotaxi businesses in two other large Chinese cities next year. The company is already testing self-driving cars in those cities and in California. 

Robotaxis in China currently have a human driver present for safety.

— CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

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How to watch Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies: TV channel, NBA live stream info, start time

Jacob Scott

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Who’s Playing

Memphis @ Minnesota

Current Records: Memphis 2-1; Minnesota 1-2

What to Know

The Memphis Grizzlies’ road trip will continue as they head to Target Center at 10 p.m. ET this past Saturday to face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Memphis will be strutting in after a win while Minnesota will be stumbling in from a loss.

The Grizzlies are hoping for another victory. They beat the Timberwolves 104-95 this past Thursday. The victory came about thanks to a strong surge after the first quarter to overcome a 39-21 deficit. Memphis’ success was spearheaded by the efforts of power forward Brandon Clarke, who had 20 points in addition to eight rebounds, and shooting guard Desmond Bane, who shot 7-for-15 from beyond the arc and finished with 26 points and six boards.

Barring any buzzer beaters, Memphis is expected to win a tight contest. They might be worth taking a chance on against the spread as they are currently on a two-game streak of ATS wins.

Memphis’ win brought them up to 2-1 while the Timberwolves’ defeat pulled them down to a reciprocal 1-2. A couple offensive stats to keep in the back of your head while watching: The Grizzlies come into the game boasting the second most points per game in the league at 115.6. But Minnesota is even better: they rank first in the league when it comes to points per game, with 115.9 on average. Tune in for what’s sure to be a high-scoring contest.

How To Watch

When: Saturday at 10 p.m. ET Where: Target Center — Minneapolis, Minnesota TV: ESPN Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.) Follow: CBS Sports App Ticket Cost: $76.96

Odds

The Grizzlies are a slight 2.5-point favorite against the Timberwolves, according to the latest NBA odds.

The oddsmakers had a good feel for the line for this one, as the game opened with the Grizzlies as a 3-point favorite.

Over/Under: -110

See NBA picks for every single game, including this one, from SportsLine’s advanced computer model. Get picks now.

Series History

Memphis have won 19 out of their last 28 games against Minnesota.

Apr 21, 2022 – Memphis 104 vs. Minnesota 95 Apr 19, 2022 – Memphis 124 vs. Minnesota 96 Apr 16, 2022 – Minnesota 130 vs. Memphis 117 Feb 24, 2022 – Minnesota 119 vs. Memphis 114 Jan 13, 2022 – Memphis 116 vs. Minnesota 108 Nov 20, 2021 – Minnesota 138 vs. Memphis 95 Nov 08, 2021 – Memphis 125 vs. Minnesota 118 May 05, 2021 – Memphis 139 vs. Minnesota 135 Apr 02, 2021 – Memphis 120 vs. Minnesota 108 Jan 13, 2021 – Memphis 118 vs. Minnesota 107 Jan 07, 2020 – Memphis 119 vs. Minnesota 112 Dec 01, 2019 – Memphis 115 vs. Minnesota 107 Nov 06, 2019 – Memphis 137 vs. Minnesota 121 Mar 23, 2019 – Minnesota 112 vs. Memphis 99 Feb 05, 2019 – Memphis 108 vs. Minnesota 106 Jan 30, 2019 – Minnesota 99 vs. Memphis 97 Nov 18, 2018 – Memphis 100 vs. Minnesota 87 Apr 09, 2018 – Minnesota 113 vs. Memphis 94 Mar 26, 2018 – Memphis 101 vs. Minnesota 93 Dec 04, 2017 – Memphis 95 vs. Minnesota 92 Feb 04, 2017 – Memphis 107 vs. Minnesota 99 Nov 19, 2016 – Memphis 93 vs. Minnesota 71 Nov 01, 2016 – Minnesota 116 vs. Memphis 80 Oct 26, 2016 – Memphis 102 vs. Minnesota 98 Mar 16, 2016 – Minnesota 114 vs. Memphis 108 Feb 19, 2016 – Memphis 109 vs. Minnesota 104 Jan 23, 2016 – Minnesota 106 vs. Memphis 101 Nov 15, 2015 – Memphis 114 vs. Minnesota 106

Injury Report for Minnesota

No Injury Information

Injury Report for Memphis

Dillon Brooks: Game-Time Decision (Foot) Santi Aldama: Out (Knee) Killian Tillie: Out (Knee)

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