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Apple Adds Blood Oxygen Sensor To Apple Watch

Apple Adds Blood Oxygen Sensor To Apple Watch

Source : Medtech Insight

Apple Inc. expects the blood oxygen sensor on its new Apple Watch could eventually help improve important health outcomes.

On 15 September, the company launched the Apple Watch Series 6, which adds a blood oxygen sensor to the electrocardiogram (ECG) and other health-related features of the previous Apple Watch models.

Blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) is a measure of the percentage of oxygen being carried by red blood cells in the blood stream. The SpO2 sensor on the new Apple Watch has four clusters of green, red, and infrared light-emitting diodes, along with the four photodiodes on the back of the watch, to accurately measure light reflected from the blood through the skin.

A customized algorithm in the watch’s software interprets these signals to measure the blood oxygen level, as long as it is between 70% and 100%. The user can take a measurement of their SpO2 on demand, but the watch also periodically measures it automatically. The user can track their SpO2 and other data collected by the watch in the Health mobile phone app.

Apple said the SpO2 sensor on its new watch will help users “better understand their overall fitness and wellness,” but expects this feature will eventually help address specific health problems.

This year, Apple also plans to collaborate with researchers at University of California, Irvine, and health insurer Anthem, Inc. to study how longitudinal measurements of blood oxygen and other physiological signals can help manage and control asthma.

The technology giant is also working with investigators at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre in Toronto to understand how blood oxygen measurements and other Apple Watch metrics could improve the management of heart failure.

The company is also contributing to a project at the University of Washington – part of the Seattle Flu Study – to learn how measuring heart rate and blood oxygen with the Apple Watch could detect early signs of respiratory conditions, including influenza and COVID-19.

Oxygen-saturation measurement has emerged as an important tool for detecting emerging respiratory symptoms and determining the severity of the disease once infection has begun. For example, a recent 280-patient study by researchers in China showed the ratio of SpO2 to the fraction of inspired oxygen – the percentage or concentration of oxygen that a person inhales – could serve as a non-invasive prognostic marker for COVID-19.

The US Food and Drug Administration has already issued six emergency use authorizations for wearable sensors designed specifically for COVID-19 patients. None of these features SpO2-monitoring, but at least one company, LifeSignals Group, is developing an SpO2 that will be integrated into its wearable Biosensor Patch 1AX to help monitor the severity of COVID-19 infection. ("LifeSignals Plans To Market Biosensor Patch To Help Consumer Identify COVID19 Symptoms" "Medtech Insight" )

The American Lung Association (ALA) reports that sales of widely available pulse oximeters that patients can use at home to measure Sp02 have skyrocketed in recent months and some physicians believe these devices could improve early detection of the disease. In a 20 April editorial in The New York Times, Richard Levitan, an emergency doctor in Littleton, NH, argued, “Widespread pulse oximetry screening for COVID pneumonia — whether people check themselves on home devices or go to clinics or doctors’ offices — could provide an early warning system for the kinds of breathing problems associated with COVID pneumonia.”

The launch of the new Apple Watch comes a day after Fitbit – which Google is trying to acquire – announced plans to launch its new Fitbit Sense smartwatch with an ECG app after it recently earned both FDA clearance and a CE mark. The FDA cleared a new ECG app for Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 3 in August. ("Fitbit Receives FDA Clearance CE Mark For ECG App To Rival Apple" "Medtech Insight" )

Apple has been offering the ECG feature since it added it to the Apple Watch Series 4 in 2018. Apple and Johnson & Johnson are co-sponsoring Heartline, a 150,000-patient study evaluating how the Apple Watch can improve patient outcomes by detecting atrial fibrillation and reducing the risk of stroke. ("Apple And JJ Collaborate On Large Atrial Fibrillation Study" "Medtech Insight" )

The Apple Watch Series 6 also improves upon earlier versions with a new dual-core processor, based on the A13 Bionic in the iPhone 11. It also features the upgraded S6 session initiation protocol that runs up to 20% faster than earlier versions while maintaining the same 18-hour battery life, according to the company. It has Apple’s U1 chip technology and ultra-wideband antennas to enable short-range wireless location services such as digital car keys.

Apple said the retail price for the basic version of the Apple Watch Series 6 will “start” at $399, while the version that also works with the cellular network will start at $499. By comparison, Fitbit said the new Fitbit Sense will cost $329.95. Samsung sells the Galaxy Watch 3 without cellular connectivity for $399.99 and the version that works with the cellular network costs $50 more.

By Reed Miller