For its newest smart watch, the ScanWatch, Withings pieced together two health monitoring technologies: one that detects the heart condition atrial fibrillation, and one that measures blood oxygen levels during sleep.
The ScanWatch sends light through the blood vessels in the wrist to measure the amount of oxygen in the blood. Monitoring oxygen levels could help detect episodes of low oxygen that occur with sleep apnea, a condition where breathing stops during sleep, Withings CEO Mathieu Letombe said in a press release. Blood oxygen readings are also integrated with other data around sleep, like sleep duration and quality.
It seems to be a similar feature to one FitBit includes in its Ionic smartwatch. Neither FitBit nor ScanWatch would be able to diagnose sleep apnea — the devices would have to go through complex clinical trials to make that claim. Right now, a diagnosis usually requires a sleep study, which involves monitoring breathing rate, heart rate, and brain activity, as well as oxygen levels. But oxygen levels tracked at the wrist may be able to serve as an initial screen for potential sleep apnea, some research suggests.
The watch also has a heart rate monitor that catches irregular heartbeats, including atrial fibrillation. If it catches an abnormality, it alerts the wearer and tells them to take an electrocardiogram reading — which measures the electrical activity in the heart — by touching sensors on the watchface. The reading will then be available on the ScanWatch app and on the watch itself. Withings first introduced their electrocardiogram feature in the Move ECG watch last year. That watch has clearance for sale in Europe, but is still awaiting Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, and isn’t available for sale in the United States.
Withings said in a press release that the ScanWatch will be available for sale in the second quarter of 2020 for $249 (38mm) or $299 (42mm). But like the Move ECG, it still has to wait for FDA clearance — for all of its features — to go on sale in the US, and for a separate clearance to go on sale in Europe. So if that long-delayed process around the Move ECG is any indication, it might be longer before you can get ahold of it.