Belgium-based FibriCheck, the maker of apps that monitor a user's heart rhythm, announced yesterday that it has developed a new version of its smartwatch offering that is capable of scanning for atrial fibrillation while the wearer is asleep.
FibriCheck said in a release that the updated app is currently nearing the end of user testing, and that it will be available for smartwatch manufacturers to incorporate into their devices in the back half of 2020.
With the new feature installed and active, the smartwatch automatically measures the wearer's heart rhythm every five minutes, the company wrote. Users are provided with an overview of their night's activity and of any alerts upon waking up, and may choose to forward those reports along to their provider for follow-up.
WHY IT MATTERS
FibriCheck says that its photoplethysmography (PPG) approach to heart-rhythm-irregularity detection is now the first to offer at-night screening, and that, in terms of accuracy, it is on par with ECG sensor-based scans being employed by Apple or AliveCor. Atrial fibrillation features in general have become something of an arms race for consumer devices since Apple kicked off its feature back in 2018. Others, like Withings and Fitbit, are working to bring atrial fibrillation detection to their devices.
With this, FibriCheck is offering smartwatch makers an alternative approach to incorporating heart-rhythm monitoring, with the added benefit of nighttime monitoring for harder-to-detect cardiac events.
THE LARGER TREND
In the meantime, Fitbit has already worked with FibriCheck to launch the app in several European countries, having most recently gone live in France, Germany, Italy and Spain in Early March. Around that time, the company also announced that it was one of 11 products selected to join the National Health Service Innovation Accelerator, a potential step toward rolling out the product at scale in the U.K.
The company earned its first 510(k) clearance back in 2018 for the smartphone version of its app, which asks users to place their finger over the device's camera.