A much-anticipated update to the Samsung Health Monitor application will activate these features on the Galaxy Watch3 and Galaxy Watch Active2 from February 4 for selected markets.
By taking measurements that move beyond the usual heart rate, Samsung is going ahead with the steady implementation of blood pressure measurement and ECG monitoring on its consumer smart watches. Following regulatory approvals and the launch of these features in South Korea and the United States last year, the technology giant announced earlier this month that these two innovative self-monitoring health tools would soon be available in 31 additional countries.
The expansion comes after the Samsung Health Monitor application received the CE mark in December. The company said it is now authorised to activate the features in 28 European countries, including the UK, and will also make them available in three emerging markets: Chile, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates.
The updates will be “progressively available” on Samsung’s Galaxy Watch3 and Galaxy Watch Active2 devices from February 4, with the exact timing of each release varying by market and carrier.
How it works:
Both features are accessible via the Samsung Health Monitor application. Blood pressure is measured using heart rate monitoring sensors to perform pulse wave analysis, while users need to calibrate their device every four weeks using a traditional cuff.
The ECG function requires wearers to place their forearm on a flat surface and place a fingertip of the opposite hand on the top button of the unit for 30 seconds. The application will then categorise the readings as regular (sinus rhythm) or irregular (atrial fibrillation). Due to the self-monitoring nature of the extensions, Samsung states that these readings are not intended as a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment.
Health apps, the future of self-monitoring
According to recently published data, 37,500 million cases of atrial fibrillation have been recorded worldwide. These cases have been on the rise for the past 20 years.
With the rapid growth of health technologies, smartwatch ECG, blood pressure monitoring, and other user-friendly health tools appear to be the most sensible development to help individuals better understand whether or not they should consult a clinician or specialist about their condition, and potentially encourage individuals to take a more active role in their own health care and health behaviours.
“We’re committed to bringing this innovative health service to more people across the world, and the latest expansion marks a major milestone in our mission”. TaeJong Jay Yang, Executive Vice President and Head of the Healthcare and Mobile Communications Team at Samsung Electronics, said in a release. With nearly one million users having included the Samsung Health Monitor application in their health management routine since its launch in Korea last June, these new features consolidate the creation of a new consumer behaviour: self-monitoring.
Keeping pace with the ever-changing healthtech sector
With other technology giants and start-ups actively developing health monitoring applications, Samsung’s move to implement new features such as ECG and blood pressure measurement is crucial for the company to keep pace with its competitors.
Apple is the market leader in consumer smartwatches and has been at the forefront with integrated ECGs since the Apple Watch 4 series, as early as 2018. Fitbit has also tried to keep pace, finally receiving US and European regulatory approval for its ECG application in September, while French company Withings first unveiled its ECG-compatible ScanWatch more than a year ago but is still waiting for the FDA’s clearance.
As far as blood pressure monitoring is concerned, Omron Healthcare has been offering a wearable device with an integrated blood pressure cuff for some years now. Others have opted for a cuffless approach based on optical sensors. Indeed, after 15 years of R&D, Swiss start-up Aktiia announced that its device has received the CE mark.