Designed with long-term medical research in mind, the Study Watch has a vastly different set of hardware requirements than your standard smartwatch. The device was designed by Verily, the “V” in Google’s Alphabet, which is devoted to serious medical studies like MS observation and contact lenses capable of monitoring wearers’ glucose level.
The Study Watch will likewise be tasked with some important research, gathering vital signs for ongoing work like the Personalized Parkinson’s Project, which is investigating patterns in the disease’s progression and identifying the building blocks for a potential cure.
The unassuming wearable will also be used for Baseline, a previously announced study dating back to 2014, which is designed to track the long-term vitals of 175 individuals, in an attempt to build “the fullest picture of what a healthy human being should be.”
Google was the target of some online criticism when it referred to that project as a “moonshot,” a term the company has traditionally reserved for wild-eyed projects like self-driving cars and internet-delivering weather balloons. But while it doesn’t possess the glitz of those undertakings, it does point to the broader mission statement of Verily, to “collect and organize health data, then creating interventions and platforms that put insights derived from that health data to use for more holistic care management.”
The Study Watch, accordingly, doesn’t possess the pizzazz of Google’s consumer electronics offerings, but from the sound of the company’s rundown, it’s built to be a workhorse. And the fact that it looks and acts like a standard wristwatch goes a ways toward making the data collection process less obtrusive than more traditional vital-gathering devices. And honestly, it’s not bad looking.
The device sports a heavy-lifting process designed for real-time algorithmic computations. It’s also got a slew of sensors for collecting a lot more data that your standard heart-rate monitoring smartwatch.
“Multiple physiological and environmental sensors are designed to measure relevant signals for studies spanning cardiovascular, movement disorders, and other areas,” says Verily in a post announcing the device. “Examples include electrocardiogram (ECG), heart rate, electrodermal activity, and inertial movements.”
Battery life is also key here, as the device is meant to be worn for long stretches. Verily says it’s able to get a week on the device, thanks to what looks to be an e-ink-style always-on display. There’s also lot of on-board storage, so users don’t have to sync the device too often, which ought to help with the aforementioned unobtrusiveness.
The official announcement of the device is pretty perfectly timed, arriving a day after rumors surfaced suggesting that Apple is getting more seriously into healthcare with a secret project designed to monitor glucose levels in diabetic patients.