Withings ScanWatch combines two heart health monitoring technologies

Withings ScanWatch at CES 2020 - Engadget YouTube
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The new smartwatch won’t be available to consumers until it receives its FDA approval.

The new Withings ScanWatch has been unveiled, revealing a wearable device that brings together two important types of health monitoring tech. The first is a form that detects atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm condition. The second measures oxygen levels in the blood while the wearer is asleep, which can help in sleep apnea detection.

These two types of health monitor can help wearers to spot the presence of difficult to detect conditions.

The Withings ScanWatch uses light sent through the wrist’s blood vessels to measure and track blood oxygen levels. This can be very helpful in the detection of sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing stops during periods while asleep, explained Withings CEO Mathieu Letombe in an official press release. The blood oxygen level data is combined with other sleep metrics such as quality and duration.

This tech appears to be comparable to what Fitbit has installed in its Ionic smartwatch. That said, it’s important to note that neither the existing Fitbit device nor the upcoming ScanWatch will be used for the specific diagnosis of sleep apnea. To be used for such a purpose, the wearable tech would be required to undergo extensive clinical trials in order to prove their accuracy and reliability.

For the Withings ScanWatch to obtain FDA approval for sleep apnea diagnosis, research is required.

Complex clinical trials including sleep studies would be necessary to prove that a smartwatch could accurately track the necessary symptoms to diagnose sleep apnea. These would include tracking heart rate, breathing rate, blood oxygen levels and brain activity. While that is not the intention for this new device, it may still prove helpful.

Some studies have indicated that blood oxygen levels can be helpful as an initial indicator of potential sleep apnea. While this may not be enough for diagnosis, it may at least draw a potential risk to the device wearer’s attention so that he or she can be checked by a doctor.

The heart rate monitor is also meant to catch irregular heartbeats. This includes atrial fibrillation. That heartbeat abnormality is undetected more often than not. That said, the Withings ScanWatch user can tap the watchface sensors in order to receive an Withings ScanWatch at CES 2020 - Engadget YouTubeelectrocardiogram (ECG) reading. The wearable tech is expected to become available to consumers in the Q2 2020 for $249 for the 38 mm or $299 for the 42 mm.

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