It started with an insistent tap on my wrist.
I thought it was one of the many notifications that I get from my mail, messaging or social networks on my Apple Watch. I let it pass and continued working. After a few minutes, it was repeated. This time I looked at the watch and realised that this was no notification about a message or a comment on Facebook. It was my Apple Watch telling me that my heart rate had been on the higher side, and that as I had not been moving too much, it was warning me about unnatural heart activity. This was the second time it had done so in a year.
Like most Indians, I never thought to get a regular medical check-up, but having this warning flash in front of me a second time made me think I should consult a doctor. Thankfully, it was nothing very serious, but I learned that my heart rate was higher than it should be, and so have to say farewell to coffee and stress.
But the doctor added that it could have been much more serious if I hadn’t taken heed of the warning and come in when I did. Continuing with the stressful lifestyle would certainly have led to a worse outcome than a stern talking to from the doctor.
The experience simply emphasized what the “killer feature” of the Apple Watch actually is, and it is not one of your “regular” smartwatch features like accessing mails or calls or messages. There are any number of devices out there that can measure you heartbeat, but Apple’s smartwatch is the only one that has actually alerted me that something was amiss with it.
In this regard it is perhaps the most proactive smartwatch or smart and out there. What’s more, it is one of the most accurate. I have actually tallied its results with the ones I have got from the heart rate counter on my mother’s blood pressure checking machine and the results are very close to each other, barely a few beats per minute apart.
Apple calls this feature the High Heart Rate Notification. Basically, the ideal resting heart rate for adult human beings falls between 50-100 beats per minute. If the watch detects that your heart rate is higher than this level for a period of 10 minutes or more, it will notify the wearer that something might be amiss. You can change the level of heart rate at which you want the watch to alert you-you can set the level from anything to 100 beats a minute to 150 beats a minute.
And yes, you can also ask the watch to notify you if your heart rate dips too low-anywhere from 40-50 beats a minute or lower.
When people talk of smart watches, the focus always ends up on being how they mimic a phone or a computer—stuff like calls, messages, and even running apps and games—or how it handles fitness activities like running and other exercises. But perhaps the greatest role a wearable can play in our lives is not as an extension of our phones, but as a proactive health counsellor.
The stress here is on the word “proactive.” Recording data is important, but there is only so much a user can do with it. When the device itself acts upon what it is recording and advises you accordingly, things move up a notch.
Where other devices will track data and provide detailed charts when asked, the Apple Watch is the first one that tapped my wrist to tell me “Oi, all is not well.” Literally. And it can also sense a hard fall, and if it notices that you are not moving after the fall, it again acts on its own and asks you if you are all right.
If you do not respond, it will make a call to emergency SOS services and also send out messages to your emergency contacts along with your location. It is not perfect, but to me, a whole lot more important than being able to take and reject calls, or read messages on your wrist.
Getting an idea of the state of one’s health is every bit as important as the state of one’s email or messaging box. That’s one killer feature that could save your life, and would be worth paying a premium for.