Withings unveils new watch with ECG, Sp02 capabilities

The new features are designed to help wearers detect the risk of atrial fibrillation and sleep apnea.
By Laura Lovett
07:31 am
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French digital health company Withings has unveiled its latest smartwatch dubbed ScanWatch, which will include an ECG and Sp02 sensor. 

The watch comes with a PPG sensor, which will continuously monitor the user's heart rate and alert users if there is an irregularity. If any issues are detected, the watch will prompt the user to take an ECG reading. Watch wearers can read the ECG on the screen of their watch or in the watch’s accompanying Health Mate app. The app can store the reading and any notes that go along with the reading. 

Currently the technology’s ECG feature is being reviewed by the FDA, and the company expects clearance sometime in Q2.  

Meanwhile the Sp02 feature will be able to measure oxygen continuously and help identify sleep apnea.  

“Sleep is a huge factor of chronic disease that we want to help people prevent and monitor and it is really important,” Mathieu Letombe, CEO of Withings, told MobiHealthNews. “You spend 20 minutes at the physician but you spend six hours or eight in your bed.”

The watch can also monitor sleep patterns and quality of sleep. In the morning users can get a sleep score, which can be accessed through the app. 

Letombe said the increasing number of people living with chronic conditions makes integrating different health metrics, such as cardiac health and sleep, key. 

“I think what is important to understand is that most chronic diseases have the same kind of root cause,” Letombe said. “You know that obesity is a strong root cause for diabetes, but also for hypertension and sleep apnea. … When you have sleep apnea you are damaging your cardiovascular system, which leads to hypertension and atrial fibrillation, so all of those chronic disease are strongly correlated. It’s just a matter of working on the technology to make sure we cover most of those parameters that are important to track when you have a chronic disease.”

The new watch will come with a 30-day battery life, and will also have activity tracking for multiple exercises including walking, running and swimming. 

Letombe stressed the importance of making the technology easy for users, and of including these tracking capabilities all in one place. 

“It has always been important for us to be noninvasive. We only add features that already exist in people’s lives — in a watch, in a scale, in blood pressure monitor. We don’t want to add any burden to people’s lives,” he said. “Even if we did [want to add extra steps], people would drop it because they don’t see the interest in doing these extra steps to monitor their health. So, we want to be noninvasive. We don’t want to ask effort to anyone.”

WHY IT MATTERS 

Both atrial fibrillation and sleep apnea are common conditions in the US. According to the CDC, atrial fibrillation impacts between 2.7 million and 6.1 million across the country. People over the age of 65 are most impacted by the condition. 

According to the National Sleep Foundationmore than 18 million people have sleep apnea, impacting between 5% and 10% of the population. 

THE LARGER TREND 

In September of 2018 Apple made headlines when it announced that its Series 4 Apple Watch would have ECG capabilities. This kicked off the new race for wearables to begin adding the technology, with both Withings and Fitbit waiting on the FDA to review their technologies. 

And while Withings is looking to play catchup in the smartwatch space, this isn't its first foray with ECG capabilities. In July the company announced its plans to update its connected blood pressure cuff product line with two new offerings: a revamped version of its existing at-home cuff, and a premium cardiac monitor with onboard ECG functionality.

ON THE RECORD 

“ScanWatch is our most ambitious medical tracker and purposely designed to detect the early presence of [atrial fibrillation] and sleep apnea — two related issues that are extremely common yet largely undiagnosed, despite their known impact on multiple health conditions,” Letombe said in a statement. “Worn throughout the day and night, ScanWatch provides an early warning system, collecting and sharing critical health data with users and their physicians.” 

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