What it is: A third-party company called BACtrack has just revealed the future of the Apple Watch.
The killer app for the Apple Watch is real-time health monitoring. Health and fitness enthusiasts wear fitness trackers to monitor their progress during workouts, but when ordinary people track their health activities to avoid future health problems, that’s the true advantage of the Apple Watch and other wearable computers. One problem with the Apple Watch is that for it to track more detailed health data, it needs more sensors. Since the Apple Watch itself is limited to the number of sensors available by the small size of the Apple Watch, the constant rumor has been that Apple will introduce smart bands that offer additional sensors.
The idea is that the Apple Watch will offer basic health tracking sensors while optional bands could offer more specialized health sensors. That way people could choose the health sensors they want and need without a device getting bogged down with far more health sensors than the wearer wants.
A company called BACtrack has introduced one of the first Apple Watch bands designed to measure a person’s blood alcohol level. For many people, this isn’t a necessary sensor but for many others, it is. That’s why it makes perfect sense to put it on a band that users can take on or off.
The BACtrack alcohol monitoring sensor in the band points the way to the future of the Apple Watch. People with diabetes might need a special sensor to monitor their health while smokers or stroke victims might want a specialized sensor to monitor their health. The goal would be to swap sensors and bands out to expand the capability of the Apple Watch.
More importantly, some types of health sensors require government approval. This means that if Apple were to integrate that particular health sensor in the Apple Watch, they might have to hold it up for years for approval. By releasing new versions of the Apple Watch without these additional sensors, but putting them in watch bands later, Apple can continue innovating and delivering new versions of the Apple Watch without government regulations slowing them down.
In short, the future of the Apple Watch lies in smart bands that offer additional, specialized sensors that work with the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch is the brains while the smart bands are the additional sensors that monitor additional data that the Apple Watch can’t.
In the old days, companies mad a fortune selling expansion cards for PCs to extend the capabilities of computers. Nowadays, companies can make a similar fortune selling smart bands for the Apple Watch to extend the capabilities of the Apple Watch.
The future is clear. As long as the Apple Watch becomes the dominant smart watch, there’s going to be a thriving ecosystem of smart bands to go along with it.