A new report out of the San Francisco Chronicle says that Apple is looking to take on users’ health in a bold new way: by predicting people’s heart attacks before they have them. Even more interestingly, the report says that the company is looking to make good on this idea through measuring the unique sounds blood makes as it flows through people’s bodies.

The report says that Tomlinson Holman—the Academy Award-winning inventor of THX and 10.2 surround sound, and who joined Apple in 2011—is leading a team to predict people’s heart attacks “by studying the sound blood makes as it flows through arteries.”

The report goes on to elaborate:

“[…] under Holman, Apple is exploring ways to measure noise ‘turbulence’ as it applies to blood flow. The company wants to develop software and sensors that can predict heart attacks by identifying the sound blood makes as it tries to move through an artery clogged with plaque, the source said.”

The report also points out that Apple representatives met with the FDA to discuss “mobile medical applications.” This would also seem to jibe with the report we got earlier this month that sleep expert Roy J.E.M. Raymann had joined Apple’s iWatch team, presumably to help the as-yet-unannounced device track users’ sleep patterns. All of these details make it seem likely that the iWatch will be more than a second screen for your iPhone. Rather, it could end up being a standalone device that radically changes the way you actually live.

Apple doesn’t simply make stylish gadgets—it makes devices that change the way you think about your interactions with technology. Upon its initial unveiling, the iPad was derided by critics as merely a big iPhone, but without the phone. And while that is exactly what it was, its ease of use and perfect form factor ushered in the juggernaut that is now the tablet category. The smartwatch category right now is little more than a fad that seems to be gaining traction little-by-little when explored by OEMs like Sony and Samsung, with a few waves being generated by Kickstarter-funded Pebble. Similarly, Google Glass, for all its potential, currently seems less like a tech-revolution and more like an easily mocked curiosity that few people would really ever consider wearing on their faces.

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Apple’s iWatch could be the game changer that turns wearables into the must-have device category that these other tech companies are trying to spur. Hopefully the company will actually get around to confirming its existence sometime this year.


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