Apple Watch likely to become medical device

Kenny Tucker
September 16, 2018

As you can see, both the Galaxy Watch and Apple Watch Series 4 are compelling smartwatches that offer a number of features for your connected lifestyle and fitness regimen.

Apple Inc presented the new Apple Watch Series 4 able to take an electrocardiogram to detect an irregular heartbeat and start an emergency call automatically if it detects a user falling down.

The most evident change with the Apple Watch Series 4 is its display, which is more than 30 percent bigger. New iPhones unveiled Wednesday offer Apple a chance for fresh momentum in a sputtering smartphone market as the California tech giant moves into new products and services to diversify.

Worldwide, about 48 million smartwatches are expected to be sold this year, compared with almost 1.9 billion phones, according to the research firm Gartner.

Apple's foray into digital health has been bolstered by the announcement of its Apple Watch Series 4, its most health-focused device ever since the series' launch back in 2015. In February, the company announced that the watch would track skiing and snowboarding runs, including data on speed and vertical descent. "To take action, users can simply raise their wrist and tap the Siri watch face or say customized commands to Siri", Apple wrote in their release on the new watchOS.

Physicians say the watch could be good for patients who have irregular heart rhythms but may not realize it.

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"In my experience, people often report symptoms that are absent during their medical visits", Ivor Benjamin, president of the American Heart Association, said at the event unveiling the $399 watch. That would help defray the $400 starting price for a device that still requires a companion iPhone that can now cost more than $1,000.

With Apple recently announcing that its wearable is the most popular watch in the world, it seems this digital revolution is finally in full swing.

The heart health features will tell users if they have any signs of unsafe conditions like atrial fibrillation, but the FDA was explicit in saying that the watch and its functions should not replace traditional tests at hospitals. You can easily share the health information to your doctor from the Health app on your iPhone.

"This can be an addition to our growing armamentarium to diagnose AFib, which can be intermittent and asymptomatic", said Dr. Lin Yee Chen, co-director of the Atrial Fibrillation Center at University of Minnesota Health Heart Care. However, as per some reports, the ECG feature will be limited to the United States for some time.

If you haven't responded within a minute - perhaps you hit your head and blacked out -the watch can call 911 using your nearby phone or its own cellular transmitter and also send a notification with your location to your preset emergency contacts. The Apple Watch Series 4 with Global Positioning System and Cellular will be available to only 16 countries. "I can see kids buying one for their parents and grandparents", he said of the smartwatch. Apple insists that the improved accelerometer won't be tricked and can easily differentiate a fall from other awkward movements. Younger people can activate it in the settings.

But the Apple Watch still lacks one feature found in rival wrist gadgets: The ability to analyze sleep quality.

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