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Alphabet's health watch has changed a lot since last year

The current prototype is a circular design with an e-paper screen.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
September 28, 2016
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You know that health-tracking watch Alphabet's X research division showed off more than a year ago, the one you're looking at above? Yeah, you'll want to forget about that design. MIT Technology Review managed to get a peek at a prototype of what should be "at least" the second generation of the now Verily-made design, and it bears precious little resemblance to the squarish block from 2015. At is heart is a familiar-sounding circular e-paper screen -- not as exciting as the OLEDs and LCDs on smartwatches, but vital for a device that you're supposed to wear as often as possible.

Logically, it's loaded with sensors. There's an outer ring that measures your electriocardiogram (aka your heart's electrical rhythm), a heart rate sensor and motion detection. You'd also see four unknown metal pads, although it's not clear if they're being used for additional sensing (such as galvanic skin response, which reflects stress) or something more mundane, like charging. The device has a brass-hued analog-style casing that looks "ordinary," according to MIT. That's possibly a good thing for wristwear that you don't want standing out.

You aren't going to buy this watch yourself. Verily mainly wants to use it for research projects like Baseline Study, which will look for disease predictors in everything from blood to sensor data. The company's Brian Otis also hints that the equipment could change: the company is "constantly iterating" on designs, he says. Even so, it's a sign that Alphabet is committed to wearable tech that can answer vital medical questions.

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