comscore Google wants to bring passive heart rhythm tracking to Fitbit trackers

Google seeks FDA approval for bringing passive heart rhythm tracking to Fitbit trackers

There is no word on when passive heart rhythm tracking feature will arrive on Fitbit's fitness trackers.

Fitbit Sense

Google wants to bring passive heart rhythm tracking to Fitbit fitness trackers and smartwatches. To make this happen, the company has submitted its data to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Also Read - Google to remove nearly 900K abandoned apps from Play Store: Report 

Fitbit, back in 2020, conducted a large-scale study as a part of which the company monitored the heartbeats of thousands of Fitbit users to detect signs of atrial fibrillation or irregular heart rhythm. The idea was to refine its algorithm that would scan a user’s heart rhythm passively and predict the health condition even if the user was completely unaware of it. The study involved 455,000 participants of which around 4700 participants received an alert on their Fitbit devices. These participants were then offered a telehealth consultation and an ECG patch was shipped to them to wear over the course of a week. Of the 1,000 participants who did so, around 98% of the participants received a confirmed diagnosis for atrial fibrillation. Also Read - Google Pixel Watch is likely to be powered by an Exynos chipset from 2018

Now, Google has submitted all the data garnered from this study to the FDA so that it can bring its passive heart rhythm tracking to Fitbit devices. “We presented the study results at the most recent American Heart Association meeting, showing that the algorithm accurately identified undiagnosed AFib 98% of the time. We’ve submitted our algorithm to the FDA for review. This is one of many ways we’re continuing to make health even more accessible,” Google wrote in a blog post. Also Read - Google announces new features for Android Auto including split-screen mode

If approved, Fitbit’s smartwatches and fitness trackers will use a technique called photoplethysmography (PPG) to detect signs of irregularities in a user’s heart rhythm. For reference, PPG uses the rate of blood flow from a user’s wrist to determine a heart rhythm, which is then analysed by Fitbit’s algorithm’s for irregularities.

As of now, Fitbit Sense uses electrocardiogram (ECG) to measure users’ heart rhythm for signs of irregularities. Users need to opt for the feature to work and check their vitals. When rolled out, Fitbit’s fitness tracker will scan a user’s heart rhythm in the background automatically. It would also bring Fitbit’s devices closer to the Apple Watch, which checks the user’s heart rhythms on occasion and alerts them if it detects any irregularities. That said, there is no word on when this feature will be available on Fitbit devices.

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  • Published Date: March 25, 2022 5:24 PM IST

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