European users should be able to order Withings ScanWatch soon as the company has secured CE certification. Those in the US will probably need to wait for this fall.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Unveiled at CES 2020, the hybrid is some two year in the making. Its headline feature is the ability to spot 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 dizziness, weakness and fatigue. It is the first of these two groups which is particularly at risk.
Scanwatch has a PPG sensor that is capable of spotting the condition. If the device 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 built into Move ECG. This watch is available for sale in Europe but Withings is still waiting for the stamp of approval from US regulators.
Scanwatch’s other big feature is sleep apnea detection. 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. 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.
Interestingly, Withings is currently offering Scanwatch to French hospitals for use with patients who have been diagnosed with COVID19. According to L’Obs, they have been using the device to monitor blood oxygen levels from home and help with research.
COVID19 infections are often accompanied with respiratory problems resulting in a fall of oxygen levels in the body. Withings has obtained an exceptional exemption from the ANSM (National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products) to provide the device to certain hospitals free of charge.
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 earlier this year.
“Worn throughout the day and night, ScanWatch provides an early warning system, collecting and sharing critical health data with users and their physicians.”
When will you be able to buy it?
The French outfit has said about a month ago that will need to wait a bit for a release – “not before June” is what the French company stated at the time. The original aim was for the device to be launched by the end of Q2.
However, in the past few days they’ve added the following.
“As you might expect, the exceptional health crisis we are all facing has impacted us in several ways, including: conducting and finalizing clinical studies in order to respect study participants and the priorities of healthcare professionals; obtaining the certifications that are required to go to market; and maintaining production capacities.“We’ve redoubled our efforts on all fronts and are finally able to send you an update concerning its availability.”
So it seems the wait goes on. But European users should be able to order the watch soon. Those in the US will need to wait for this Fall. There will be a 38mm iteration ($249) and a 42mm one ($299). Both will come with an impressive battery life of 30 days.
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