Apple’s hush-hush fitness lab

Why the fitness center at Apple’s new campus is the size of a shopping mall.

From the MIT Technology Review:

For several years now, Apple has operated a hush-hush fitness lab in an undisclosed location at its campus in Cupertino, California, and this week the company offered up a few details about how it’s studying all kinds of activities—on dry land and in water—in order to build algorithms for tracking them on the Apple Watch.

Jay Blahnik, Apple’s director of fitness for health technologies, said Tuesday that Apple believes the gym-like lab—which was built before the Apple Watch was released in 2015 and uses employee volunteers as guinea pigs—has now collected more biometric data than anyone else. It has also become the largest purchaser of metabolic carts, which are used to keep tabs on oxygen consumption; it now has 50 of these machines, he said, and half of them are portable so they can be used for activities like swimming and cycling. (And employees do use them, along with a security guard, for a daily bike ride, he added.)

The Review’s Rachel Metz snagged this detail from the health-and-fitness briefings Apple staged for third-party developers and the tech press last week. Jackdaw Research’s Jan Dawson reported on the same briefings in more detail in Tech.pinions ($) and on the Tech.pinions podcast, where Carolina Milanese complained about the unsolved problem of data entry in the calorie counting apps she’s tried.

Imagine what Apple could learn—and use to its unique advantage in the growing health-and-fitness market—if data from the Apple Park cafeteria were correlated with data from the exercise lab.

Seems like a cool AI project for Apple. If the idea hasn’t already occurred to Tim Cook, I give it to him, gratis.

One Comment

  1. Richard Wanderman said:

    This lab and the Apple Watch are an important part of Apple’s future, both short and long term.

    July 16, 2017

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