Having securing CE regulatory approval, French-based Withings has opened sales in Europe for its much anticipated Scanwatch. The timepiece was previously only available via a limited insiders program.
ScanWatch – what’s so special about it?
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 the Withings Move ECG. This watch is available for sale in Europe but the French outfit is still waiting for the stamp of approval from US regulators. It seems Withings is having more luck with regulators on the continent.
Sleep Apnea detection
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.
The timepiece can detect breathing disturbances during the night and alert the user. These are detected through a combination of sensors including SpO2, heart rate and accelerometer (for movement and breathing frequency).
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. Once it secures all the regulator approvals, the results will be of use 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.
Where and when can you buy it?
Withings says clinical studies have been successfully finalized and they’ve received CE Medical certification, allowing ScanWatch to go to market in Europe. In the US, they have not yet received FDA certification but are expecting to do so in Q4.
European users can order the watch on the Withings website. There is a 38mm iteration (€279/£249.95) and a 42mm one (€299/£279.95). Both come with an impressive battery life of 30 days.
Currently ScanWatch has CE approval for AFiB detection (via ECG & PPG), SpO2 measurement and for detection of overnight breathing disturbances. CE clearance for sleep apnea detection is expected in the months ahead.
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