Apple Jacks Up the Competition

Recently at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), CEO Tim Cook presented where the company is headed and announced two new apps – the HealthKit and HomeKit. (The entire video is on YouTube, in case you missed it.) Most tech entrepreneurs, journalists and developers were a little underwhelmed.

These two areas – personal fitness/health wearables and connected living spaces – have been ripe with innovation for some time. While Apple’s technology isn’t earth shattering, it’s the nod that everyone with a smartphone has anticipated. Apple is getting in the game, so it’s really real.

So a Bit About Apple’s Apps…

HomeKit is “a new framework for communicating with and controlling connected devices in a user’s home. Apps can enable users to discover devices in their home and configure them, or you can create actions to control those devices. Users can group actions together and trigger them using Siri.” HomeKit users will be able to control their home’s temperature, open garage doors, adjust the lighting, set the alarm and a whole range of things – all from a mobile device.

Apple also announced a certification program for manufacturers to make products compatible with the HomeKit framework. This spurs an entire new category of home-related apps, adding to the ever-increasing app economy.

But Apple gets even more personal with HealthKit, which will be built-in to the new iOS 8 and use advanced sensors and included into next-generation devices, to track a variety of body metrics. Reportedly, HealthKit can record and track users’ blood pressure, heart rate, glucose level, hydration level, nutrition, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, and weight, as well as allow people to track the usual fitness metrics, including steps taken, distance measurement, sleep, and daily food intake. Ultimately, this app should allow people to create medication and health reminders or alerts, as well as include “emergency card” information that could be needed in an urgent health situation.

What Took You So Long?

While it’s certainly nice to see Apple joining the health and fitness wearables game, developers aren’t exactly geeking out over the announcement. Granted, there has been a lot of entrepreneurial activity in these two sectors. We see startups in every major metro rushing to create the solution to home and health mobile integration.

Not to mention the incredible strides Samsung has made. As Hayden Shaughnessy states in his well-articulated article on the subject, “Let’s be clear. Samsung is well entrenched in health.” Samsung committed to the hard work of slogging through the mammoth health care industry, understanding the labyrinth that is health insurance and how to work with big systems not to mention the privacy issues that will inspire a new awareness of data security.

And leave it to Apple to pay close attention to those companies, watching how they get to market, how they overcome the incredible barriers, who is able to scale and how consumers react. Their move from “watchful” to “here we come” is a sure sign of the attractiveness of these market inventions. No doubt that Apple will maintain their incredible dedication to design and seamless user experience, all from the iCloud.

The Future is Here

One thing is clear. Apple’s planned entry is simply falling in line with the consumer-driven demand for tech that is driving economic growth across the country. Consumers are clamoring for these innovations that help them regulate the functions of their home and improve their health. In response, new technologies, apps, and devices are developed and released at lightning-fast speeds, fueling competition, delivering important benefits to consumers, creating jobs, encouraging entrepreneurship—and leading to even more innovation and growth.

Many of these new technologies are being developed right here in Dallas thanks to a supportive and emerging tech community including accelerators Tech Wildcatters and Health Wildcatters. I recently had the opportunity to attend the Health Wildcatter’s Quick Pitch, where 24 teams gave their all and 3-minutes to explain their technology.

There were many in the “connected self” space like D.E.A.N.A. Fit, which is a digital exercise and nutrition advisor that offers customized workouts and meal plans, all from a mobile device. Or fitter, which enables fitness studios to better streamline their connection and communication with customers. Or LynxFit, which morphs mobile devices into fitness coaches from the Google Glass platform (soon to extend to other wearable devices.)

This is just a start to the smart technologies that emerging from the Dallas startup scene. All across North Texas, incubators, accelerators and mentor-driven tech hubs are helping entrepreneurs bring products to market that will “improve quality of care and save lives through healthcare innovation and technology,” as stated straight from Health Wildcatters’ “About Us” section.

Important Policy Considerations

To date, entrepreneur, developers and innovators have been allowed to create freely, without oppressive regulations standing in the way. So it seems ridiculous and even backwards that regulating the Internet is – again – up for debate in Congress and at the FCC, where some people are arguing that the Internet should be regulated like the old-fashioned rotary phone network.

Such “Title II” regulations go back 80 years. If adopted, these antiquated policies would apply to the Internet, app providers, search engines, and much more. It is difficult to imagine any scenario in which exciting innovations and useful technological advancements could thrive under such obsolete bindings.

If we want to continue to benefit from the newest and latest innovations—in every sector, from Apple and from other tech companies—then our leaders and policymakers in DC should shift their focus and stop thinking about the past. Smart rules designed to encourage economic growth and investment into 21st century network infrastructure will help meet consumer demand and ensure continued innovations. The health of our economy, including the high-tech sector, depends on forward-focused modern regulations that offer opportunities innovators and consumers and make it possible for the next Apple to thrive and grow.

Chelsea brings more than 15 years of experience working with organizations that deliver innovation through technology. She has built strategic partnerships with stakeholders in both the public and private sector from early-stage start-ups to technology incubators to state government and elected leadership. Chelsea has participated in the launch of several entrepreneurial companies including NewsTaco, an online news site for Latinos; FlashValet, a mobile/web application that combines convenience with valet parking; and Vidamerica, an innovative retail company that delivers community-based services. Chelsea is the former Marketing Director for MPOWER Labs, a double bottom-line research/development incubator and business accelerator whose mission is to empower the world’s underserved. While at MPOWER, she also served as founding Program Director for RISE – an annual conference series dedicated to connecting and inspiring entrepreneurs.