Apple Watch, one of the best selling smartwatch in the market, is set to get an advanced heart-rate monitoring feature. The Apple Watch already measures heart-rate, but the new feature is expected to turn it into a diagnostic device.
Apple is working on an EKG monitor for its smartwatch that can anticipate future behavior, and alert users against any abnormalities of the heart. Bloomberg reports that the company is testing a version where Apple Watch users need to squeeze the frame with two fingers of the hand that’s not wearing the smartwatch. The device then tracks electrical signals in the heart by sending an imperceptible current across the person’s chest. The feature will allow Apple to detect any abnormalities like irregular heart rates, and alert users to take preventive measure.
Electrocardiograms or EKGs or ECGs are tests commonly conducted in hospitals where the device monitors the heart’s activity for a short period of time. By building such a feature into an Apple Watch, normal people can continuously track their heart and ensure proper medication in case of abnormal behavior.
The smartwatches, once introduced as a luxury wearable devices, are fast becoming serious health and fitness device. The introduction of new sensors and ability to measure human vitals, the smartwatch is now seen as a device capable of saving human life. Apple is spearheading that transition and the smartwatch recently got its first EKG reading watch band.
Bloomberg adds that the development process of EKG monitor is still ongoing, and Apple might not include the technology in its future products. Apple announced a research initiative in collaboration with Stanford Medicine in November to study irregular heart rhythms.
The participants of the research initiative download an app that uses the Apple Watch’s heart rate monitor to understand potential irregularities. The user is offered a free video consulation with a doctor if any abnormalities are spotted by the application. The research data could help Apple develop tools needed to anticipate future behavior of the heart and predict abnormalities.
According to IDC, Apple Watch will help smartwatch shipments to hit 71.5 million units by 2021. The health industry in the US is expected to grow to $5.5 trillion by 2025 and Apple sees the sector as an opportunity beyond smartphones. However, the biggest hurdle for Apple and other tech companies would be to get FDA approval which enforces stringent testing standards for all medical equipment.