Tue, Oct 09, 2018 - Page 14 News List

New Apple Watch heralds ‘smart healthcare’ revolution for aging societies
人口老化嚴重 國內外大廠佈局智慧醫療

Jeff Williams, chief operating officer of Apple, speaks during an Apple event on Sept. 12 in California, US.

Photo: AFP

The new model iPhone was released mid-last month to a somewhat muted reaction from the market. However, at the same event Apple Inc also released an updated Apple Watch, called the Apple Watch Series 4, which showed that the company is working furiously behind the scenes to break into a new field, as it quietly builds an eco-system around “smart healthcare.” Due to the importance of safeguarding human life, the entry threshold into the healthcare market is high, but the potential rewards are significant. As humans live longer, we are becoming ever more reliant on technology and artificial intelligence as a means to look after our health.

The definition of “smart healthcare” is extremely broad. Starting with the da Vinci surgical robot, already on the market for over a decade, the area now includes specialist fields such as the automatic transfer of patient blood pressure monitoring data to hospitals and AI-assisted artificial gene synthesis (gene printing), which is able to rapidly compile DNA sequences and produce biopharmaceuticals. While attending a discussion forum by the Industrial Technology Research Institute in Taiwan last month, major pharmaceutical company Merck & Co predicted that revenue from AI-related health care alone — which currently stands at about US$600 million — will grow to around US$20 billion by 2026. Furthermore, AI constitutes just one small piece of the overall smart healthcare market.

Humanity is on the cusp of an imminent medical care crisis. According to US research, there is a positive correlation between the patient-to-nurse ratio and patient mortality rate: For every additional patient that a nurse has to care for, the 30-day mortality rate for hospitalized patients increases by 7 percent.


1. work furiously behind the scenes phr.

鴨子划水 (ya1 zi5 hua2 shui3)

2. artificial intelligence phr.

人工智慧 (ren2 gong1 zhi4 hui4)

3. on the cusp of phr.

面臨 (mian4 lin2)

4. imminent adj.

迫在眉睫 (po4 zai4 mei2 jie2)

5. significant step forward phr.

邁進一大步 (mai4 jin4 yi2 da4 bu4)

6. wearable device phr.

穿戴裝置 (chuan1 dai4 zhuang1 zhi4)

7. snowball effect phr.

滾雪球效應 (gun2 xue3 qiu2 xiao4 ying4)

As a result of various background factors, “smart healthcare” will be an unstoppable force in the future. As such, global manufacturers, whether involved in communications, machinery, pharmaceuticals or consumer technology, are all getting involved, and Apple naturally wants to claim a piece of the pie for itself. At last month’s launch of the updated Apple Watch, Apple revealed that the device now supports a heart rate monitor and wrist sensor and represents a significant step forward for the wearable device. Previously, the watch was only able to record a wearer’s heart rate, but the technology has been upgraded so that Apple Watch can now monitor a user’s heart condition in a way that provides real medical value.

In addition to the above new hardware functionality, Apple is also building a health eco-system. Last year, Apple embarked on a partnership with Stanford University Medical Center to found the Apple Heart Study program, which uses Apple Watch to collect large amounts of data on heart rate activity from volunteers. This year Apple has signed agreements with more than 90 hospitals across the US so that patients can use their mobile phones to access their own medical records, making it possible for users to bring their medical history with them wherever they go. If the results are successful, it may well create a snowball effect and spread to other medical institutions.

(Liberty Times, translated by Edward Jones)

新款iPhone在上個月中發表,市場反應是無甚驚奇。不過從同場發表的Apple Watch,可看出蘋果已在另一個領域鴨子划水,悄悄建起了生態系「智慧醫療」。因為人命關天,這是一個門檻極高的市場,但商機也很大,尤其在人類壽命愈來愈長的未來,勢必仰賴更多科技和人工智慧來照顧我們的健康。

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