For most of us, a smartphone is an essential item just to get through our day to day life. We rely on smartphones for news updates, sports headlines, games, social media and so much more. When Apple came out with the Apple Watch a few years back, many jumped on the craze knowing that watch would give them that much better accessibility to their phones. In particular, the Apple Watches allow users to see their texts and phone calls without even having to take their phone out of their pocket. Like Apple phones, the Apple Watches have continued to evolve generation after generation, with the newest generation promising a heart health monitor that is promised to excite.
Of course, the original Apple Watch, which was released three years ago in 2015 incorporates a simple heart rate monitor. The monitor, like many smartphones in this day and age, allows users to quickly know what their heart rate is at the click of a button. Due to the widespread success with the heart rate monitor, Apple has continued to evolve in that direction. Now they are planning to introduce what is called an “ECG” sensor, which in addition to the heart rate, measures a sure heart rhythm.
According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the ECG will continue to track users towards purchasing an Apple Watch. It certainly promises to have many benefits, but it also poses many questions.
First, will Apple need approval from federal regulators to utilize the ECG sensor? The answer is two-fold. If Apple enables the user to see their ECG reading, then yes, they would need to register it as a medical device. If Apple simply uses the ECG to get more accurate heart rate data, they would not need the device to be registered.
Secondly, what would the ECG look like on the Apple Watch? That question remains unclear. There has been no clear indicator for which of many options they could employ. Apple could build it into the watch band sensor or make it possible through the lick of a button on the side.
Thirdly, who would the ECG sensor help? That question is a bit more intuitive than the others, as the technology has the opportunity to help millions of people dealing with heart conditions. In particular, if the first question is answered with the device being used as a registered medical device, then the ECG sensor could be used to help detect Atrial Fibrillation, which is a heart rhythm disorder.
Fourth off, will physicians be involved in the ECG sensor process? Experts suggest that they will have to be. If Apples wants to actually use the sensor to screen for diseases or help clients with their medical conditions, physicians will need to be convinced of its value. Experts cite that physicians, who are often skeptical of these new technologies in the first place, will be concerned about the number of healthy people that come into their office concerned about the data from their Apple Watch with no real context behind what the data truly means.