For his newest smart watch, the ScanWatch, Withings, two health monitoring technologies are merged: one that detects the atrial fibrillation of the heart condition and one that measures the oxygen level in the blood during sleep.
The ScanWatch sends light through the blood vessels in the wrist to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood. Monitoring oxygen levels can help detect low oxygen episodes that occur with sleep apnea, a condition where breathing stops during sleep, Withings CEO Mathieu Letombe said in a press release. Blood oxygen levels are also integrated with other data about sleep, such as sleep duration and quality.
It looks like a similar function to that FitBit incorporates in its Ionic smartwatch. Neither FitBit nor ScanWatch could diagnose sleep apnea – the devices would have to undergo complex clinical examinations to make that claim. At present, a diagnosis usually requires one sleep study, in which breathing, heart rate and brain activity, as well as oxygen levels are controlled. But oxygen levels monitored at the wrist may serve as a first screen for possible sleep apnea, what research suggests.
The watch also has a heart rate monitor that captures irregular heartbeats, including atrial fibrillation. If it catches an abnormality, it alerts the wearer and tells them to take an electrocardiogram measurement – which measures the electrical activity in the heart – by touching sensors on the dial. The measurement is then available in the ScanWatch app and on the watch itself. Withings introduced their electrocardiogram function in the Move ECG watch for the first time last year. That watch has permission for sale in Europe, but is still pending Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval and is not available for sale in the United States.
Withings said in a press release that the ScanWatch will be on sale in the second quarter of 2020 for $ 249 (38 mm) or $ 299 (42 mm). But like the Move ECG, it still has to wait for approval from the FDA – for all its functions – to go on sale in the US and for separate approval in sales in Europe. So if that long delayed process around the Move ECG is an indication, it may take longer before you can get a grip on it.