Eric Schmidt: Smartwatches will be able to detect illness, call your doctor

In the next five to ten years, people will be wearing smartwatches that can detect if you have an illness and call your doctor for you, Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google parent Alphabet, predicted on Thursday.

Health care has been a big focus for major technology giants from Apple to Samsung in recent times. Smartphones and wearable devices have become increasingly sophisticated and able to detect bodily features such as heartbeat and blood pressure.

Schmidt, whose company is betting on new innovations from driverless cars to artificial intelligence, said that medical technology has the potential to be a huge sector.

"We believe that the application of digital technology in mental health, in heart disease, in many cancers will revolutionize the industry ... there are many start-ups who are working in this area. I personally believe that that will be the largest and next new industry," Schmidt told an audience at the Viva Technology conference in Paris.

Eric Schmidt of Google at the Paley Center For Media
Source: Michael Priest Photography for the Paley Center
Eric Schmidt of Google at the Paley Center For Media

"Many of you don't wear a watch anymore because you use your phones as a clock ... But if a watch were also a health device, if that watch also did transdermal monitoring, if that watch was smart enough to use WiFi to call your phone and say, 'call the doctor and tell Eric to go to the hospital,' that technology is coming."

Schmidt said that technology works but "it's now a question about productizing".

Google produces an operating system for smartwatches called Android Wear, allowing developers to make apps for these devices. Apple has been focusing on health technology in recent years. In 2014, the company released a health app as well as a developer platform called HealthKit. The idea was to allow developers to make health apps that integrate with Apple's own app.

Earlier this year, Tim Cook said that health care is an "enormous" opportunity for Apple.