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Teen says Apple Watch saves his life

Technically Incorrect: A Massachusetts high schooler has back and chest pains during football practice. He thinks it's nothing. Then his Apple Watch tells him his heart rate is twice what it should be.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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Paul Houle Jr. Saved, he says, by the Apple Watch. ABC News screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I tend to think that gadgets are making us more neurotic, if that was even possible.

Seventeen-year-old Paul Houle Jr., however, believes that without his Apple Watch he might be dead.

He explained to ABC News that he checked his Apple Watch before football practice earlier this month. He attends Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts.

After two practices on the same day, he began to experience chest and back pain. He told ABC News: "I didn't think much of it. I thought I was just sore and I would feel better the next day."

It was then, he said that he looked at his Apple Watch again and noticed his heart rate was at 145, twice the normal rate. So he told his athletic trainer.

Very soon, he was in the ER. There, he learned he had rhabdomyolysis. His father, a neurosurgeon, told ABC News: "That means that your muscle breaks down and floods your system with protein. It can effect multiple organs."

Houle Jr.'s heart, liver and kidneys had already suffered some damage.

Dr. Houle told ABC News: "If it wasn't for the Apple Watch to alert him to the fact that there was a problem, he probably would have just gone back to bed. He would have showed up for practice the next day and would have been one of the kids you read about every fall, who drops dead on the football field."

Apple believes that its watch is "the most personal device we've ever made." The company says that the product will encourage healthy behavior (while sometimes nagging you.) In measuring heart rate, Apple says the watch measures it continuously, so that you can notice anything unusual immediately. For accurate measurement, the company suggests you make sure your watch fits well. While some people like to post their results online for others to see, it serves as a constant self-monitoring system which some might find bafflingly self-obsessed.

Houle Jr. isn't back playing football yet. He is, however, heading to Apple. He says that the company's CEO Tim Cook heard about his experience, called him and offered him an internship.

Apple wasn't immediately available for comment.

It may well be that if smartwatches are truly embraced by humans, we'll all be monitoring our every bodily function 24 hours a day. Some people already are.

As with every gadget, watches will carry with them good and bad consequences. I suspect that Houle Jr. will never again be without his watch, which he bought from his summer job earnings.