Apple Watch Expected to be Wheelchair Compatible in the Near Future
By now, most of you have heard of Apple’s newest innovative creation, the Apple Watch. It’s a handy watch that has some capabilities of a phone like reading your messages, opening photos, and setting notifications, but what makes it stand out is its full capabilities of a fitness tracker! It encourages wearers to exercise and reminds them to stand up and walk around. It’s a pretty neat idea, except if you’re in a wheelchair you probably won’t be able to use the fitness tracker too much to your advantage.
Good thing Apple decided to change that. By fall of this year, the watch will get a new software update that will be compatible with wheelchair users. So instead of showing “time to stand” and getting up to walk around, the watch will show “time to roll” prompting to wheel or spin the wheelchair. And that’s not even the best part! According to Apple, the watch will also be able to track distance, speed and calories burned when you’re in a wheelchair just like if you were walking or running. Wheelchair specific workouts will also be included with the new update, which makes it easier for anyone to be a little bit healthier.
To pull this off, Apple couldn’t use the formulas used to track stand-alone fitness because new information needed to be calculated. They started from scratch and incorporated factors like different seat sizes, wheel heights, different surfaces the wheelchairs are used on, the different pushes to move a wheelchair up a ramp or through obstacles, and whether the disability was from a spinal-cord injury or muscular dystrophy. They were able to create the formulas by recruiting 300 people in wheelchairs and acquiring over 3,000 hours of activity research.
Now that the Apple Watch will be a fitness tracker for both stand-alone users and wheelchair users, it will definitely have an advantage to other fitness trackers such as Fitbit which only have stand-alone functions. This could also increase sales numbers for Apple, but Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, stated that the new update isn’t about market opportunities. “We want to make products that serve every walk of life,” said Williams in an interview with US News.