The next big thing from Withings comes in the form of a hybrid called ScanWatch. The promise is that it can help detect underdiagnosed cardiovascular and sleep issues early.
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The first of these is a serious form of irregular heart rhythm that can lead to heart failure and is a major risk for stroke. Some people who have AFib don’t have any symptoms, so the condition often goes undiagnosed. Others may experience symptoms such as dizziness, weakness and fatigue. It is the first of these two groups which is particularly at risk.
The hybrid has a PPG sensor capable of spotting irregular heartbeats. If it suspects something is amiss it will prompt the user to take an electrocardiogram (ECG) via the built-in electrodes by simply touching both sides of the bezel. It takes no longer than 30 seconds. This is similar technology to the one featured on Move ECG which was introduced last year. This watch is available for sale in Europe but Withings is still waiting for the stamp of approval from US regulators.
Like atrial fibrillation, sleep apnea can be cumbersome and costly to detect. Withings says one billion people suffer from the condition to some extent. The disorder is characterized by pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing during sleep. These can last from a few seconds to minutes and they happen many times a night. Heart rate and oxygen levels are prime indicators of sleep apnea.
To this end, ScanWatch shines a light through the blood vessels on a user’s wrist to work out the amount of oxygen in the blood. This is similar to technology that can be found in a range of Garmin watches and that is built into some Fitbit devices (but is yet to be enabled). Just like Garmin, Withings will monitor blood oxygen levels but will stop short of diagnosing sleep apnea as this would require lengthy clinical trials. Nevertheless, the results can be used as an initial screen for the condition.
Outside of that, ScanWatch has the usual sensors to help users track their activity day and night, including Connected GPS. The hybrid comes with a PMoled display and water-resistance down to 50 meters depth.
“ScanWatch is our most ambitious medical tracker and purposely designed to detect the early presence of AFib and sleep apnea – two related issues that are extremely common yet largely undiagnosed, despite their known impact on multiple health conditions,” said Mathieu Letombe, CEO of Withings.
“Worn throughout the day and night, ScanWatch provides an early warning system, collecting and sharing critical health data with users and their physicians.”
ScanWatch will be available for purchase in the second quarter of 2020. There will be a 38mm iteration ($249) and a 42mm one ($299). Both come with an impressive battery life of 30 days. Hopefully the company will have more luck this time around in securing regulatory clearance from the FDA.
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