Smartwatch makers, namely Apple, Fitbit and Samsung, are trying hard to turn their wearables into ultimate fitness machines. The companies are in a quest to enable them to measure vitals signs of humans including heart rate and blood pressure.
The idea with all of these brands is to ensure that these measurements are more accurate, and can be seeded directly to a doctor to offer preventive advice ahead of a potential risk. Apple has been rumored to be testing ability to measure blood pressure and blood glucose level with its Apple Watch. It seems Samsung is also following suit by adding blood pressure measurement to its Gear smartwatch.
The problem with measuring blood pressure right now is the need for bands that can inflate similar to sphygmomanometer. However, the South Korean electronics giant has filed a patent which suggests Samsung has figured out a way to carry out measurement with a light sensor similar to the one used to measure heart rate. The patent carries illustration of a watch called Samsung Gear X, which seems similar to the original Gear watches.
It is possible that the device is simply a placeholder for the tech under consideration. The patent description, spotted by Techtastic, shows the sensor sending polarized light and sensing the intensity of the scattered light. It is not clear whether the technology will be able to match the accuracy of a sphygmomanometer used by doctors to measure blood pressure.
At CES 2018 last month, Omron showcased HeartGuide, a fitness smartwatch capable of measuring blood pressure. The HeartGuide has an extra stiff band that actually inflates to take oscillometric measurements and relies on a process currently used by doctors. The watch manually takes readings with the press of a button but can also be programmed to take readings at night while sleeping.
However, companies like Apple, Samsung and Fitbit want to achieve the same by using sensors and eliminating the cumbersome process of adding an extra stiff wrist band. It is not immediately clear when Samsung plans to introduce the feature but we can hope to see it in Gear S4, which is expected to launch in the next few months.