iPhones and iPads are extremely popular among medical professionals, with over 70% of the doctors owning one or both. Patient data security is critically important in the healthcare sector. Controlling access to the mobile device via strong user authentication is necessary in keeping data from falling in to wrong hands. Strong passwords minimize the risk of unauthorized device access. But thumbing long passwords in the phone is cumbersome which results in many users using weak or no passwords.
Finger printing technology used in the new iPhone 5S, though not completely foolproof, could strike the right balance between convenience and security. The fingerprint scanner does not store the actual finger print scans ( wall street journal), but stores fingerprint data in encrypted format on the phone’s processor. This data is not stored on Apple servers or the iCloud and is not available to third –party applications. It is only accessible by the Touch ID sensor. This should address data security and privacy concerns.
Of course it remains to be seen how the sensor technology works in real usage scenarios, when oily, sticky fingers could a factor. Hopefully the technology will be robust enough to keep unauthorized users out and won’t keep the rightful cellphone owner locked out of their phone. It would be a pain to enter passcodes every time the fingerprint scan doesn’t work.
The iPhone 5S also has a new M7 coprocessor that works with the new A7 chip. The M7 is designed specifically to continuously measure motion data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass, without continuously involving the A7 chip. This will help lower battery consumption. The M7 coprocessor can also tell if a person is driving, running or walking. So for example if you park your car and start walking, the M7 coprocessor can tell the maps application to switch from driving to walking directions.
The mhealth sector is projected to grow at a tremendous pace in the next few years, with health/wellness and remote monitoring of chronic illness indicators being the prime usage scenarios. Looks like Apple is looking to increase its footprint in the healthcare space. It will be interesting to see how effectively different mhealth apps use the M7 coprocessor capability in their offerings.