Huawei Watch D blood pressure ability is not all that it’s cracked up to be

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Huawei Watch D has been made official today. The Harmony OS device is able to track blood pressure along with ECG. However, its blood pressure ability is not be all that it’s cracked up to be.

There are very few timepieces right now that can monitor for blood pressure. The Samsung line is one exception although it does require calibration and the readings are only on-demand. But it looks like the tide is slowly shifting.

We reviewed recently Aktiia, a blood pressure monitoring bracelet. It automatically captures readings multiple times per day via an optical sensor. Other companies are looking to get in on the fun.

For example, Valencell has announced at CES 2021 that its optical sensors have been upgraded to capture blood pressure readings from the wrist with cuff-like accuracy. The tech is expected to debut in the coming months.

There’s also the next generation tech that a number of companies such as Apple, Zepp Health, Withings and Samsung are exploring with Rockley Photonics. The difference between these sensors and the ones typically used today is that higher wavelengths are utilized in addition to those on the visible spectrum.

The miniature Spectrometer-on-chip is apparently capable of capturing info on blood oxygen, hydration, heart rate, heart rate variability, core body temperature, breath rate, blood pressure, hydration, glucose and more. Exciting times are clearly ahead in the wearable tech space. But this is currently undergoing testing. The hope is that the first devices with Rockley sensors will launch in the second half of 2022.


Huawei Watch D – blood pressure is not all that it’s cracked up to be

Huawei has taken a different approach to the problem. The ability of Watch D to take blood pressure readings comes from an additional strap accessory that slots underneath the regular watch strap. Whenever you initiate an on-demand reading, the accessory inflates. In a sense, the micro-pump works like a miniature traditional cuff-style monitor.

Essential reading: Best fitness trackers and health gadgets

For blood pressure readings to be accurate, the watch must be worn on the left side and during a reading your hand should be at the level of your heart – across the chest. That’s a far cry from something that automatically and seamlessly takes blood pressure measurements.

Here’s a demo video someone from China posted on Youtube showing how the tech works. Not really the slick solution we were hoping for!

Watch D also has the ability to take on-demand ECG readings, along with heart rate (eight-channel high-sensitivity optical sensor), and it tracks activity, sleep, 70 different sports, and more. Huawei has said it is planning to slap on continuous body temperature detection technology to its wearables but Watch D is not one of these.

The blood pressure tech means the watch only has IP68 water and dust resistance which makes it ok to wear in the rain. You won’t be able to swim with it, though, but it probably will survive being submerged in water for a very short time.

The device has a high hardness aviation aluminium body and a 1.64 inch screen. The latter provides retina-level resolution with 326 PPI pixel-density. Battery life is about a week.

Huawei Watch D is only available in China for now at a cost of 2,988 Yan (around $470). The choice is between a Classic Black and Elegant Titanium variants. For an extra $95, owners of the timepiece can subscribe to professional medical services that offer customized diet, sleep and exercise insights.

Availability across the border (if we see it) might take a while as Huawei will need to secure approval from the FDA and other regulatory bodies. In China the watch has snagged the Drug Administration certification as a Class 2 medical device.

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