Finally, Withings earned Food and Drug Administration clearance for its ScanWatch which is designed to monitor abnormal heart rhythms through an EKG feature. It flags night-time breathing issues with the help of its blood oxygen sensor. Currently, the watch has been available for sale in Europe but not in the United States. It is the first smartwatch to get the FDA’s signoff on both types of health features.
Apple, Fitbit, and Samsung all detect blood oxygen levels but so far, none of them have ever claimed they detect any medical conditions using that information, therefore, they did not need the clearance.
On the other hand, Withings is claiming that its device can flag night-time breathing problems through a combination of blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and movement. In a statement, the company said those breathing problems can be a sign of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and sleep problems.
Now, other smartwatch companies are also trying out different sleep apnea features. For example, Fitbit has been working on a similar feature and Apple is also reportedly working on the Apple Watch’s sleep and blood oxygen features.
Sleep experts are excited about the potential for smartwatches to help detect conditions like sleep apnea which in most cases go undiagnosed.
However, smartwatches have the potential to track only a few of the measurements that doctors typically use to diagnose the condition so experts like Seema Khosla, medical director of the North Dakota Center for Sleep consider it more useful as an initial screener. Withings said by early November, ScanWatch will be available in the US.