Zepp Health (Huami in China) has announced today a new version of its operating system and chipset for smartwatches. Even more exciting is that blood pressure measurements from the wrist are coming by the end of this year.
A quiet year so far
This has been a quiet year so far as far as Amazfit watches, at least by Zepp Health standards. We saw the release of the Amazfit T-Rex Pro and Amazfit GTS 2 Mini a few months ago, but that’s pretty much it.
The other change, of course, was the rebranding of Huami to Zepp Health globally. The reasoning behind this decision is that Zepp is a name that is “easier to remember, transcending languages, cultures and borders.” The company has, however, retained the name Huami for the Chinese region.
Essential reading: Best fitness trackers and health gadgets
Not only were there very few new smartwatches in 2021, but there’s little planned for the immediate future. Check the US FCC website and there’s nothing there apart from a new version of Amazfit buds called Buds Pro. This was launched earlier today and it comes with comprehensive health monitoring functions including heart rate, posture tracking, hearing health and move reminders.
Now we might have a clue as to the reasons why Zepp Health has gone quiet in recent months. It is because it has bigger changes in store!
Zepp Health “The Future of Health” event
It seems Zepp Health has been working on a new version of its operating system for a while now. To remind, the company has recently changed the name of the smartphone app for watches to go along with the rebranding. But both Amazfit and Zepp devices continue to work with the same operating system.
Now is as good a time as any for a more significant revamp. The details of this were revealed at the Zepp Health “The Future of Health” event a few hours ago.
We have reviewed numerous Zepp and Amazfit watches over the years, and must say are fans of the current operating system called Amazfit OS. It works well, responds quickly to taps and swipes, and is easy to find your way around. It is also not too resource intensive and Zepp and Amazfit watches typically have excellent battery life.
This is partly due to the fact that the operating system is based on RTOS (Real Time Operating System). For those not in the know, the operating system has been around for a long while.
Originally it was used to power heart pacemakers, flight booking systems and similar. More recently a version called FreeRTOS has been used by smartwatches. It achieves good performance, battery life and cost savings as it has limited hardware requirements. Amazfit and Zepp watch run on something based on RTOS, as do OnePlus watches.
New chipset and operating system
A Weibo post by Huami CEO Huang Wang a few days ago gave some hints on the upcoming operating system. He says it will be better suited for watches and can better take advantage of the health features present in wearables.
There is a short video on Huami’s Weibo social feed showing the revamped heart rate interface. You can see a screenshot below. The full video can be seen on this link.
Some more details were revealed today.
For starters, Zepp Health introduced the Huangshan 2S chip. This is a dual-core chipset based on RISC-V architecture. It will have an independent GPU.
Future Zepp and Amazfit watches will come packing this tech. The chip offers 56% less power consumption than the current generation (Huangshan 2 launched last year), 93% less dormant power consumption and 67% better graphic performance. All of this translates into longer battery life and better display quality.
As far as the upcoming operating system, this will be called Zepp OS. At only 55MB in size, it will be one-tenth the size of Amazfit OS and 65% less power consuming. This will enable some more dynamic visual effects as shown in the video linked to above.
The company says the OS is designed “with an emphasis on health, user experience, and privacy protection with three key characteristics: being light, smooth and practical.” It will also support 4G/5G modules and TCP/IP network protocols to connect to the cloud without the need for a smartphone.
Third party developers will be able to tap into this and create their own apps. Zepp Health is opening a Mini Program framework for this purpose.
“We envision the Zepp OS to be an OS comprised of thousands of developers with tens of thousands of mini smart watch applications that form an ecosystem to help our users to better manage their health and enjoy better lives,” said Chief Executive Officer Wang Huang.
Expect Zepp OS to launch in Q4 2021. What this means for the current crop watches is unclear. Hopefully users will be able to upgrade to the new software. But Zepp Health might do something similar to Samsung. They said their current watches will not be compatible with Wear OS 3.0 but that Samsung will continue to support the Tizen operating system for a further three years.
Blood pressure from the wrist
This is not where today’s news ends.
Blood pressure is the next area of interest for many companies and Zepp Health is no exception. They’ve been quietly working for the past five years on a non-invasive and sleeveless solution for such measurements. Today it was officially announced.
Zepp Health PumpBeats is an algorithm capable of figuring out your blood pressure by using the watch’s optical sensors on the wrist. Third party testing conducted by the First Hospital of Peking University showed accuracy within 5.14mmHg for Systolic and less than 4.88mmHg for Diastolic pressure.
This will also launch in Q4 on next generation watches. At the outset it will offer only on-demand measurements. The plan is to expand this to continuous blood pressure monitoring in the near future.
Like this article? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and never miss out!