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Steve Jobs' Cancer Experience Inspired the Creation of the Apple Watch

The late CEO and Apple co-founder developed pancreatic cancer in 2004 and spent a lot of time in the healthcare system until his death in 2011
Connected Fitness
May 10, 2016

Time has a new piece on Apple's development of the Apple Watch, as well as medical platforms like HealthKit, ResearchKit, and CareKit, and explains that the inspiration behind Apple's work in this area comes from the struggles of former CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs left Apple with an important mission.

The entire piece is worth a read, and arose following writer Tim Bajarin's visit to Apple in order to spend time with unnamed executives involved with the smartwatch. Of particular interest, however, is Barjarin's note concerning the inspiration behind the device: it arose, the article explains, following Steve Jobs' battle with pancreatic cancer.

The late Apple CEO Steve Jobs developed pancreatic cancer in 2004. He then spent a great deal of time with doctors and the healthcare system until his death in 2011. While that personal health journey had a great impact on Jobs personally, it turns out that it affected Apple’s top management, too. During this time, Jobs discovered how disjointed the healthcare system can be. He took on the task of trying to bring some digital order to various aspects of the healthcare system, especially the connection between patients, their data, and their healthcare providers.

HealthKit lets iOS users monitor aspects of their personal health; ResearchKit, on the other hand, helps researchers closely monitor medical conditions, and CareKit allows patients to take ownership over their own care. Big names are using Apple's platforms in order to examine life-altering conditions, and we're only a couple of years in. The Apple Watch, while a fashion accessory and productivity tool, also has the potential to help users better monitor their health and fitness. Its on-board heart rate monitor is great in this respect.

Apparently, Apple was looking at ways to deliver on Jobs’ goal of making their customers healthier by using technology to help monitor and track health related data points. It became clear to them that they would need some type of mobile device platform to do this. They concluded that a standard fitness tracker couldn’t do the types of things Jobs and current Apple executives really wanted to see. That’s how the Apple Watch came about.

Bajarin also notes that Apple's fitness labs, which we heard about during the development of the Apple Watch, are still running for 12 hours a day, six days a week. He concludes in his article:

The more I look at Apple’s health initiatives and things like the Apple Watch, the more I see a grander plan to to make its customers healthier and help reform the healthcare system. If Apple’s current leaders are successful with their healthcare focus, the company’s impact on that world could be Jobs’ greatest legacy.

Of course, we'll hear more about this during June's WWDC, and at September's (anticipated) launch of a second-generation Apple Watch. We'll keep you posted with further information as we receive it.