Just a couple of days ago, Tim Cook (CEO, Apple Inc) responded to a tweet from an Indian dentist who credited the ECG feature on the Apple smartwatch for a timely intervention to address a blocked artery. This is enough proof that smartwatches have evolved from being fitness companions to wellness tools
The pandemic has also played an important role in accelerating innovation and consumer adoption at a time when personal wellness is now priority. We’ve been testing some of these innovations over the past few months. Let’s take a look at some noteworthy features you can find on smartwatches:
An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a test that records the timing and strength of the electrical signals that make the heartbeat. The ECG app measures these pulses to get your heart rate and see if the upper and lower chambers of your heart are in rhythm. If they’re out of rhythm, that could be AFib or atrial fibrillation, a form of irregularity The first time we experienced an ECG test on a wearable was on the Apple Watch Series 5 in 2019.
Fitbit’s premium wearable offers multiple wellness metrics including askin temperature sensor. This is slightly different from the core temperature (inside your body), usually measured with a thermometer. Skin temperature is the temperature on the surface. It typically varies more than your core temperature, since warming up or cooling down the skin is one way the body regulates itself and keeps core temperature stable. The Fitbit Sense smartwatch takes three nights to estimate your baseline temperature and then begins to measure variations with the skin temperature sensor.
This feature on the Garmin smartwatch uses a blend of heart rate variability (HRV), stress and activity to estimate your energy reserves (score of 1 to 100). A higher number is an indication that you can push yourself to more tasks and activities, while a lower number tells you that’s it’s time to conserve your energy. More often than not it corresponded with my own assessment of my energy levels. The unique aspect of Body Battery is that it is a cumulative metric that builds a picture of a user’s energy over hours and days.
The big differentiator in Samsung’s flagship smartwatch is the Body Composition tracker. Usually found on smartscales, a Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) sensor can measure your body composition, such as your skeletal muscle mass and fat mass. The sensor sends microcurrents to the body to measure the amount of muscle, fat, and water in the body. Samsung’s new BioActive Sensor combines with a fast chip (a dual core 1.18 GHz processor) to track fat percentage, skeletal muscle and body water.
All you need to place two fingers on the two physical buttons (on the right spine) for 15 seconds.
You can set this smartwatch to monitor stress levels all day and alerts you when you’re touching abnormally high stress levels. The watch also allows you to perform a manual stress level test on demand. The GTR 3 Pro also prompts you to open the watch’s breathing exercise feature if high stress levels are detected. Amazfit’s stress index is calculated based on changes in heart rate variability.
There’s also a ‘One-tap Measuring’ feature; all you have do is hit this button and keep your wrist still for 45 seconds. You get four key metrics delivered on one screen – blood oxygen saturation (SpO2 levels), heart rate, breaths per minute and a stress level score.