Smartwatches can keeps tabs on steps, heart rate and sleep but none of them can measure your blood pressure. At least not with great precision. But it looks like a future smartwatch from Samsung might be able to do the trick.
High blood pressure – hypertension – increases the risk of a heart attack. One in three adults is affected but as there are no obvious symptoms, a third of these can be unaware of a problem. While self-checking is not a substitute for seeing a doctor, being able to regularly measure and most importantly track blood pressure over time is of great help in understanding how dietary, fitness and other changes effect your health.
Essential reading: Smart blood pressure monitors
Taking blood pressure readings requires a cuff to tighten around the arm or the wrist, and this has not changed with the advent of connected health devices. The closest we’ve come to a blood pressure tracking smartwatch is the Omron HeartGuide. Due out later this year, this is the first watch-sized sphygmanometer that promises readings as accurate as you would get from upper arm models. But it still needs to inflate itself. Its just that everything has been miniaturized.
Samsung’s patent shows the tech giant may have figured out a different way to take measurements. Similar to the light sensor used for heart rate sensors, it works by shining polarized light and then sensing the intensity of the scattered light. If the technology proves accurate, it means you’ll be able to monitor your blood pressure around the clock directly from your wrist.
The patent drawings show a watch called Samsung Gear X.
Whether this technology actually makes it to market is another question. Companies often file patents that never see the light of day, so don’t be too disappointed if you don’t see it in the next generation of Samsung watches. But the progress of technology is unstoppable. In just a few years time, we are sure blood pressure monitoring will become a standard offering of any half decent smartwatch.
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