A series of major new features are coming to the next generation of Apple Watch according to Bloomberg.
Mark Gurman writes Apple intends to bring sensors that can recognize sleep apnea and elevated blood pressure to the Apple Watch Series 10 next year.
It’s all part of what has been dubbed Apple’s “evolving approach to health care,” which has its roots in 2014’s introduction of Apple HealthKit.
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Apple Watch blood pressure monitoring
Blood pressure has long been discussed as a possible future feature for the Apple Watch Series, with suggestions it may involve near-infrared spectroscopy.
This means changes in blood pressure will be calculated by literally looking at blood flow using near-infrared light.
It seems likely Apple will use this technique to identify changes in blood pressure, rather than to spit out the actual numbers you might refer to when using a blood pressure cuff. However, this would still provide the crucial indication someone may be suffering from hypertension.
Much like the stories of Apple Watches telling people they have some heart rate abnormalities, the important part is giving someone a cue to seek the guidance of a medical professional.
Apple Watch sleep apnea
Sleep apnea, on the other hand, can be identified through an analysis of factors like blood oxygenation, movement, breathing rate, snoring and heart rate — plus other statistics a watch couldn’t realistically measure, like brain activity.
In a professional setting you might be subjected to a polysomnogram, where a person is hooked up to a bunch of sensors while sleeping overnight. However, an Apple Watch can already measure the majority of elements involved.
The challenge for Apple may be in ensuring a sufficient level of accuracy, and working out the algorithm that collates these factors for a solid, if tentative, diagnosis. Apple doesn’t want to go around suggesting folks have sleep apnea when they don’t.
Apple Watch blood sugar monitoring
It is also believed a future Apple Watch will have a blood glucose monitor, to warn wearers if they may be pre-diabetic.
This would be a hugely useful feature when, according to the CDC, an estimated 38% of US adults had pre diabetes in 2017-2020.
Apple would not be the first mainstream wearable to offer blood glucose or blood pressure monitoring, though. Huawei has done both.
The Huawei Watch D from 2021 uses a micro inflatable cuff to measure blood pressure in a fairly traditional way, and it claims the Huawei Watch 4 from 2023 provides “non-invasive” blood glucose monitoring.
Apple’s adoption of these features, perhaps using completely different methods, will make a much bigger splash. However, it’s sensible to take Bloomberg’s predictions with a pinch of salt, as Apple will have high reliability standards to meet before releasing these health metrics to the public.