(Update: Google took on Apple in the health arena yesterday with the launch of Google Fit. The company announced the new initiative at its Google I/O Developers Conference in San Francisco.
Google Fit is an open fitness and health tracking platform. The platform SDK will be available in just a few weeks.
The news comes just a few weeks after after Apple announced HealthKit at its Worldwide Developers Conference. HealthKit, which will be bundled with Apple's new iOS 8, is a hub where you can monitor daily health stats and track data over time.)
If reports are right, Google will announce its second attempt to tap into health data at its annual developer-focused conference in California. The event, Google I/O, runs today and tomorrow at San Francisco's Moscone Center West.
What should you know about this — or at least consider?
Google Knows … Everything
Some might remember Google’s first shot at tapping into health data with the Google Health platform it launched six years ago. The 2008 launch was ambitious, to say the least: Google Health wanted to standardize health records and act as the aggregation and storage platform for the data.
But it was relatively short lived. Google felt pushback from patients and healthcare providers alike and shuttered the service in 2011.
The aim is different this time around. With Google Fit, Google wants to tap into the treasure trove of information that users are generating via their wearable devices. Information such as activity level, sleep, heart rate, sun exposure and caloric intake are just the beginning, as more sophisticated sensors are developed and deployed in wearable’s this data pool will expand exponentially.
Google will likely face far less push back now than then because the perception of privacy surrounding fitness data is far lower than it generally is for health records. While most people rightfully feel squeamish about allowing the search giant to manage and standardize their medical records, letting it be the clearinghouse for their fitness data doesn’t seem to have the same stigma attached to it.
But Not So Fast
While the issues of privacy surrounding data collected from wearable tech might not undergo the same scrutiny as health records maintained by physicians, it should not go overlooked. Like anything in the Internet of Things (IoT) space security and privacy have to be considered. There are many reasons health records have such stringent standards for privacy and the handling of data. And it is still unclear where data collected from wearable devices will fit into that framework.