Apple Watch to Track Activity Levels of Wheelchair Users


Apple announces plans for fitness tracker for wheelchair users

Photo via Apple

Chances are you’ve probably seen them strapped on the wrists of friends, co-workers, or people at the gym or running errands around town. Fitness trackers and other wearable devices are everywhere and their popularity continues to grow. From counting steps to recording heart rate, fitness trackers are a great way to monitor your health and activity levels. But what if you use a wheelchair to get around? Is there a tracker made especially for you? Not yet, but Apple is working to change that.

According to a story by Samantha Murphy Kelly for Mashable, Apple has announced plans to turn the Apple Watch into the “first wheelchair-accessible.” Rather than steps, the device will track pushes and “encourage users to meet daily goals, burn more calories, and nudges them to keep moving throughout the day.” According to Kelly, 2.2 million people use manual wheelchairs and it’s important for these individuals to remain active in order to reduce health risks.

Beginning this fall, the watchOS 3’s Activity app experience will be “optimized for wheelchair users,” says Kelly. Pushes from wheelchairs users wearing the Apple Watch will contribute to daily calorie goals and rather than a “time to stand” reminder, users will get a “time to roll” notification. Additionally, the Workout App will feature a Wheelchair Run and Wheelchair Walk option.

To gather information and develop algorithms that could accurately measure pushes and fitness metrics on the Apple Watch, Apple partnered with Challenged Athletes Foundation in San Diego and also worked with the Lakeshore Foundation, whose facilities served as the official U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Site.

The new Apple Watch features will be launched this fall.

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