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Google Fit Wants to Rule All Your Wearable Health, Fitness Devices

Google aims to create a service to collect and share data from various fitness and health gadgets

2 min read
Google Fit Wants to Rule All Your Wearable Health, Fitness Devices
Illustration: Randi Klett; Original images: Getty Images

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Google is no longer satisfied just to know what you searched for online the last time you had a cold or suffered from heartburn. The Internet giant plans for its Google Fit service to track everything about your health by gathering data from fitness trackers, health apps, and wearable medical devices.

The Google Fit service will debut at the Google I/O conference for developers this week, according to Forbes. That suggests Google aims to compete with Apple and Samsung in becoming the leading choice for unifying all your personal health data, allowing the companies to track details such as how many steps you took yesterday, your heart rate during your last run, or your weight changes over the past month.

It's unknown whether Google Fit would only exist as a service within the next version of Android or become available as a standalone app for Android users to download. But Forbes managed to obtain some details about how the service could work:

"One source with knowledge of Google’s plans said Google Fit would allow a wearable device that measures data like steps or heart rate to interface with Google’s cloud-based services, and become part of the Google Fit ecosystem."

Google Fit could be poised to compete with Apple's HealthKit service, which also aims at sharing data among various fitness and health trackers. Samsung has introduced a similar service called Sami that collects biometric data from various devices.

A company that succeeds in creating one health service to rule all the wearable fitness and health trackers must account for a large array of devices. The current market already includes a bewildering variety of such wearable gadgets in the form of wristbands, clip-ons, and smart watches. Google is even working on a smart contact lens capable of measuring blood sugar levels in a person's tears as a painless alternative to finger prick devices for people with diabetes.

Any health service would still have to work around figuring out privacy safeguards for all the health data they scrape together. But such services may at least escape some of the more strenuous U.S. regulatory guidelines. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already added several new exceptions for mobile medical apps that it won't regulate as a medical device. At least one exception seems to fit the description of Apple's HealthKit service, according to MobiHealthNews. If that's the case, Google Fit may also escape harsh regulatory scrutiny.

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Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?

Extracting and using brain data will make workers happier and more productive, backers say

11 min read
A photo collage showing a man wearing a eeg headset while looking at a computer screen.
Nadia Radic

Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

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