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Apple’s Glucose Monitor Better Delivered via AirPods Than the Watch

Apple’s Glucose Monitor Better Delivered via AirPods Than the Watch

Media reports suggest Apple is aggressively pursuing the creation of a non-invasive blood glucose monitor. The most obvious device to leverage this monitor may seem to be the Apple Watch; however, as we wrote two weeks ago, we think that, long term, AirPods are a more important product for Apple than the Apple Watch, because biological data available in the ear is much richer than the data available from the wrist. This makes AirPods a better candidate to be Apple’s glucose monitoring solution in the future.

Source: Apple

A recent study on wrist-worn heart rate monitors, including the Apple Watch, suggests that they offer spotty accuracy at best. The study showed that the Polar M7 chest-worn monitor has a 99% correlation coefficient to an electrocardiogram when measuring heart rate, the industry standard.  The Apple Watch had the next highest coefficient at 91%, with the study noting that the accuracy decreased as exercise levels increased. While 91% accuracy may be acceptable for recreational heart rate monitoring, it’s not acceptable for blood glucose monitoring.

In a separate study, scientists tested the use of an ear-based sensor to calculate VO2 max during exercise. The study showed that the ear-based sensor had a 98% correlation coefficient to an electrocardiogram when measuring heart rate, nearly the same as the Polar M7 monitor. We believe that movement of the wrist during activity is a key factor in reducing accurate biological readings, a problem that impacts ear-based wearables significantly less. We also believe that the ear offers the possibility to collect better data, which the aforementioned study seems to confirm, and richer data, because of the semi-internal nature of the ear canal, proximity to the brain, and greater blood flow in the area.

If Apple does use AirPods to monitor glucose via the ear, they wouldn’t be the first company to try it. Integrity Applications sells a product called GlucoTrack, which uses an ear-clip device to monitor ultrasonic, electromagnetic, and thermal data to produce a blood glucose reading. Apple may be able to incorporate similar functionality into AirPods, creating a multifunction device.

Transforming medicine has long been a focus at Apple, particularly under Tim Cook. The company pioneered ResearchKit to drive forward medical research through rich patient data. Apple also created CareKit to enable developers to create better applications that help users manage their health. Developing solutions for a condition like diabetes, which affects millions of people around the world, is a next logical step. We think that step happens at the ear, not the wrist.

Disclaimer: We actively write about the themes in which we invest: artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, and augmented reality. From time to time, we will write about companies that are in our portfolio.  Content on this site including opinions on specific themes in technology, market estimates, and estimates and commentary regarding publicly traded or private companies is not intended for use in making investment decisions. We hold no obligation to update any of our projections. We express no warranties about any estimates or opinions we make.

Augmented Reality
2 min. read Show less
Don’t Miss the Importance of Diminished Reality

Don’t Miss the Importance of Diminished Reality

Written by guest author Lindsay Boyajian, CMO at Augment 

Pairing augmented reality with diminished reality provides a superior visual experience and could help grow the AR market.

Augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality are three realities that exist on the reality-virtuality continuum—and they are probably the three terms you have heard again and again.  However, there is a fourth reality you probably haven’t heard of—diminished reality.

Diminished reality can be thought of as the opposite of augmented reality. Augmented reality (AR) enhances our reality by overlaying digital elements like 3D models on the physical world.  Contrary to that, diminished reality (DR) diminishes parts of the physical world. It removes unwanted objects in our view.
Karen E. Hamilton (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

How does diminished reality enhance augmented reality?

Although DR doesn’t lie on the virtuality continuum, it can be used in combination with AR for a greater visual impact.

Let’s take the example of interior design. AR lends itself well to interior design because it allows us to try different pieces of furniture in our homes. Thanks to AR, we can see exactly how a new chair would fit and complement our existing space.

However, often the space we are trying to redesign is already crowded with old furniture. Placing the new chair in AR on top of the old chair doesn’t serve much value. You can’t appreciate it. If you first use DR to hide the old chair from view, then use AR to place the chair in the seemingly empty space, the visual experience is much improved and valuable for the end user.

 

This combination of augmented and diminished reality is referred to as mediated reality. The term mediated reality is attributed to MIT researcher Steven Mann in 1994. Mediated reality alters our perception of reality by adding and removing information through a device such as a headset or smartphone in real time.

Mediated reality swells AR market projections

According to Digi-Capital, the AR market is projected to reach $83 billion by 2021. The additional applications of AR paired with DR could increase this projection. Visual experiences that couldn’t be achieved with AR alone can now be realized.

For instance, a builder would like to visualize his new office tower plans on the building site.  However, an existing dilapidated building occupies the lot. With a choice of AR versus VR, he would likely choose VR. With AR alone, he would overlay his building model on the lot, but the crumbling building would still be in view. The full visual impact would be lost. With VR, he can create a virtual replication of final project without the existing structure obstructing the visual.

Pairing DR and AR, the builder realizes the advantages of VR without the need to entirely recreate the real-world environment virtually.

With mediated reality, the builder can clear the lot and overlay his building in the real world in real time. For the builder who is trying to solicit stakeholder buy in, AR is advantageous because it is an inclusive and collaborative experience.

DR opens up new opportunities for AR. It shifts dollars that may have been invested in alternative technologies such as VR to AR.

How is diminished reality achieved?

In-painting is the technique used today to create a DR experience.

In-painting refers to the process of reconstructing parts of images or videos by matching the texture and structure of the original.  It isn’t a new technique.  For instance, in the world or art restoration, in-painting is used to reinstate the damaged areas of a painting.

One of the difficulties today of achieving DR is real-time video in-painting. Real-time DR isn’t readily available like AR or VR experiences. However, engineers and organizations around the world are developing the technology to make it accessible to users in tandem with AR.

A version of this article was originally published on Network World.

Disclaimer: We actively write about the themes in which we invest: artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, and augmented reality. From time to time, we will write about companies that are in our portfolio.  Content on this site including opinions on specific themes in technology, market estimates, and estimates and commentary regarding publicly traded or private companies is not intended for use in making investment decisions. We hold no obligation to update any of our projections. We express no warranties about any estimates or opinions we make.

Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality
3 min. read Show less
Don’t Write Microsoft Off

Don’t Write Microsoft Off

Typically, when we talk about the future of AR and VR, the first companies that come to mind are Apple, Google, Facebook, and Snapchat; however, Microsoft does not receive enough credit for the strong positioning it has already built.

As shown in our Jump Ball for the Next OS chart, Microsoft sits in third place behind Google and Apple in terms of elements necessary for a complete AR OS.

In the past week, Microsoft has made three important announcements that show the advances it’s making in order to better position itself as a key platform for VR and AR the future.

Project Scorpio. Last week, Microsoft unveiled its final Xbox Project Scorpio specifications through Digital Foundry. Project Scorpio is a mid-generation console with 4K output and VR gaming capabilities. Gaming is one of the first areas where VR will have a big impact, and Microsoft is poised to benefit from it.

Of all of the companies vying to own VR and AR platforms of the future, Microsoft is the only one to have a gaming console. In January, Microsoft shared that it had reached 55 million monthly active users on its Xbox Live platform, up 15% from the previous year. The Project Scorpio console, set to be released this fall, is powerful enough to display VR content. Microsoft’s main competition in console gaming is Sony, who released an early VR system in November of 2016. Sony has since announced that Playstation VR has sold over 915,000 units as of late February. We view Playstation VR as a step behind the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, but ahead of smartphone-powered experiences.

While Microsoft doesn’t produce any VR hardware, it sells the Oculus Rift headset in its stores and has included the Xbox controller in Oculus Rift bundles. Oculus seems like the logical choice for a VR headset partner for Project Scorpio, but Microsoft shared that the next console will also support the Mixed Reality Headsets from Microsoft in 2018, which include headsets manufactured by Lenovo, Dell, Acer, and HP.

Mixed Reality OS Support. Microsoft recently announced that its latest Windows 10 update, the Creator’s Update, will start rolling out to users beginning on April 11th. This update will include support for Mixed Reality (MR) headsets. While this doesn’t mean much to consumers now since MR headsets won’t be available until the holiday season, developers that are soon to receive their MR development kits will be able to work on creating content and applications now. Providing developers with this early window should lead to high-quality MR content being available on day one of the MR headset releases.

It’s also important to remember that Microsoft is leading the way when it comes to MR hardware, with the Hololens. While there are improvements that can be made, Microsoft has a commanding lead in the category. Its updates to Windows 10 will further benefit Hololens developers as well. We continue to view mixed reality as true augmented reality.

Sprinkles. Microsoft has also released a photo application for iOS called Sprinkles, which is a foray into AR on a mobile platform. Sprinkles gives users photo editing tools, allowing them to add filters, stickers, and emojis. In addition, it utilizes facial recognition to position stickers and recommend celebrity look-a-likes. This app is similar to Apple’s recently released Clips.

While Microsoft clearly missed an opportunity in the shift to the mobile computing paradigm, it seems heavily invested in positioning itself as a strong company in the future computing paradigm based on its investments in AR and VR.

Disclaimer: We actively write about the themes in which we invest: artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, and augmented reality. From time to time, we will write about companies that are in our portfolio.  Content on this site including opinions on specific themes in technology, market estimates, and estimates and commentary regarding publicly traded or private companies is not intended for use in making investment decisions. We hold no obligation to update any of our projections. We express no warranties about any estimates or opinions we make.

Augmented Reality, Microsoft, Virtual Reality
3 min. read Show less