Apple Watch Upgrades Target Disabled Users

Apple announced at their keynote event WWDC yesterday that their next generation Apple Watch would be boast a host of upgrades specifically designed for disabled users. Here are a few highlights:

Wheelchair Users Will Be Able To Track Their Movement


In what might be seen as radical move in some quarters, the new Apple Watch will have fitness tracking features specifically designed for wheelchair users. According to information released yesterday by Apple, the new feature available on the forthcoming Apple Watch will aim to not only track distance and speed, but also the amount of calories being burned.

Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, said the feature isn’t just a gimmick.

“We want to make products that serve every walk of life,” Williams said in an interview. “We realize that while it was great for messages on the wrist, we wanted to offer this group of people the same opportunity to get healthier using Apple Watch.”

Apple Watch Set To Become Medical Bracelet

Apple Watch set to introduce medical alert

Also announced at WWDC, was that the Apple Watch will soon feature a SOS feature. Soon by pressing the side button on the WatchOS and holding it, Apple Watch will automatically call emergency responders. Importantly, WatchOS will automatically know where you are and call the right number.

Also the Apple Watch will now be able to store important medical information and automatically share it with the emergency responders. This means that the Apple Watch could soon be medical bracelet that many people with complex conditions have been looking for.

The Apple Watch already boasts a larger faces for visual impaired users, as well as a mono audio mode for those with hearing difficulties. Additionally, WatchOS will also add more tactile feedback options for those who are partially sighted and/or blind.

Read more here and here.

What Does This Mean?

One thing is for sure – this is positive. With smartphone technology playing a ever increasing role in our lives, companies like Apple making considerations toward consumers with additional needs is vital. I have long thought that smart wearables had a role to play for wheelchair users particularly.

It is not always possible as a wheelchair user to reach your smartphone from the pocket of your jeans or jacket. You don’t always have a hand free to answer a call or reply to message. Equally interacting with apps such as Spotify or Google Maps – where you want to make one touch choices can be tricky.

Wearables should be the answer but I still feel some way away from justifying the hefty price tag. Like the early iPhones, I want to see a few more of the bugs worked out first. Although with these updates – I do feel that we are getting closer.


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