Rolling Without Limits

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New Apple Watch 0S 3: Tailored for People Who Use Wheelchairs
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New Apple Watch 0S 3: Tailored for People Who Use Wheelchairs

The Apple Watch 0S 3 is all set to hit the shelves this week! And, according to the makers, apart from several major updates, most notably is that it is now tailored for people who use wheelchairs. 

According to statistics, more than 2.2 million Americans are dependent on wheelchairs for mobility. Because of their mobility restrictions, these individuals can be more at risk for cardiovascular disorders, strokes, and diabetes.

Even though there are more than 1000 fitness trackers available in the market, unfortunately, none are fully equipped to support wheelchair users.

Luckily, the Apple Company has changed this standard! According to Ron Huang, the director of software engineering at Apple, adding wheelchair activity to the watches was no small order. Developing these updates required crucial research and effort.

How Will the Wheelchair Inclusive Apple Watch Work?

Fitness trackers to date, such as Fit Bit and previous versions of the Apple Watch, consider a person’s hand movement to track the distance of the user’s stride. But in the case of wheelchair users, the algorithms differ greatly.

The wheelchair users move their arms in a completely different way when pushing themselves around. The engineers at Apple were not satisfied with the past studies on how the wheelchair users burn calories and were inspired to delve deeper. This is why they teamed up with the Lakeshore Foundation and the Challenged Athletes Foundation for a detailed study. Both the organizations are dedicated to enhancing the fitness levels of individuals with mobility limitations.

Apple fitted special sensors in each test subject’s personal wheelchair. Other types of detectors were also installed on the test subjects to measure the movements and calories burned. Throughout the course of more than a year, Apple now had enough documentation to integrate these algorithms derived from their wheelchair user subjects.

After several tweaks, the team at Apple came up with ways to replace the traditional movements with those that were accurate for a wheelchair user. For example, the reminders "to stand" are now changed to "reminder to roll/spin." “Hand Cycling Machine Tracking” has also been added to the new Apple Watch. Workouts have also been added to the Apple Watch, titled “Wheelchair Run Pace” and “Wheelchair Walk Pace.”

Third-party integration has also been put into action for the new Apple Watch. Users can use apps such as “Health Kit” which allows them to share their personal data, and potential concerns with their doctors and physicians.

The wheelchair inclusive Apple Watch has opened opportunities for many wheelchair users to maintain their fitness. Technology is ever growing and adapting, and no one should have limited access in taking advantage of it. After this initiative taken by the Apple Company, we hope to see other makers of fitness trackers following the same approach.  

Image credit: Image by author

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