What does the new Apple Watch ECG mean for wearables?

Apple Watch

What does the new Apple Watch ECG mean for wearables?

Almost 2.3 billion people have smartphones now, and a rising number of people are starting to wear more tech as well. Wearables were originally clunky and single purpose, but now are as sleek and seamless as our phones.

This week, Apple launched the new Apple Watch and as usual, there are some minor updates but we are most interested in the new ECG feature. According to Apple; ‘The optical heart sensor has been part of Apple Watch from the beginning, allowing you to quickly check your heart rate. Now it can also detect if your heart rate falls below a specified threshold for a period of 10 minutes when you appear to be inactive, triggering a low heart rate notification. This can be a sign of bradycardia, which can be serious if the heart is not pumping enough oxygen-rich blood around the body.’

“We’ve added electrodes into the back sapphire crystal and the digital crown, allowing you to take an electrocardiogram,” said COO Jeff Williams.

So, basically, the Apple Watch is now a wearable with a medical advantage. It’s definitely interesting to see tech and health be paired together so closely, and to be accessible to regular people. There may be some issues with this, but it is an extra step in the healthcare journey, helping to empower the user and can help improve awareness of medical conditions.

It’s estimated that anywhere from 2.7–6.1 million Americans have atrial fibrillation, with around 750,000 people being sent to the emergency room annually as a result. Often, people with the condition show no visible symptoms. “Capturing meaningful data about someone’s heart in real time is changing the way we practice medicine,” said Ivor Benjamin, president of the American Heart Association.

Now this isn’t a perfect system, as the FDA points out that the ECG app isn’t meant to be used in people younger than 22, nor is it recommended for people with other known heart conditions that can disturb your heart rhythm. However it is still a step in the right direction, giving consumers more control of their own data and healthcare overall.

From what we’ve seen with Toothpic, once a user is aware of their condition, they are very likely to act on getting treatment, whether the knowledge comes from a device or medical professional. If consumers have more information, they can really take control of their own healthcare.

What do you think is the future of connected healthcare?