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Sep 15, 2020

Singapore to pay citizens for keeping healthy with Apple Watch

Three Apple Inc. Watch devices sit on display inside the Regent Street Apple store during a product launch event in London, U.K., on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. Apple's new iPhones with camera enhancements and improved battery life go on sale today.

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Apple Inc. and the government of Singapore have partnered on a two-year health initiative dubbed LumiHealth, which is built around tracking and rewarding user behaviour through the Apple Watch gadget and an iPhone app.

As part of the scheme, Singapore residents will be able to earn as much as S$380 (US$280) by completing goals and tasks set within the app. Goals can be accomplished by walking or doing other exercises like swimming or yoga, and the LumiHealth app will offer personalized coaching and reminders for health screenings and immunizations. Wellness challenges will nudge users toward making better food choices and improving sleep habits.

The LumiHealth program is voluntary and its announcement stresses that it’s “designed with user privacy and security at its core.” All user data will be encrypted and none will be sold or shared for marketing purposes, according to Apple. The service is the product of a solicitation from the Singapore government -- which has a reputation for being an early adopter of new technology -- for proposals from tech and health-care companies to help improve the lives of its population.

“Even as all of us around the world are dealing with the challenges of COVID-19, we must keep investing in our future. And there is no better investment than in our own personal health,” said Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

The city-state was among the first to roll out a contact-tracing app to help combat the coronavirus pandemic this year and is expanding that effort by distributing tokens that will allow residents to enter selected venues, an effort that may pave the way for larger gatherings.

Apple announced its latest update to the Apple Watch in a virtual event on Tuesday, featuring health-tracking features prominently in its pitch for what is now a family of products spanning various price points. The company has already done several collaborations with health care institutions such as Stanford Medicine, helping to develop research and potential detection methods for various medical issues.