While the Apple Watch now has heart monitoring features, the new electrocardiograms (EKG) tech would help detect heart beat irregularities – no doctors office required. “There’s tremendous potential to do on-device computing, to do cloud computing as well and to take that learning, and through machine learning, deep learning and ultimately artificial intelligence, to change the way health care is delivered”, Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams told an audience at a conference in October.
If true, the feature would likely subject the Apple Watch itself to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation, like AliveCor’s KardiaBand for Apple Watch, a $199 single-lead EKG that reportedly required two years to receive agency clearance.
EKGs (electrocardiograms) detect irregularities in the electrical impulses that trigger the contractions in the four chambers of the heart. The report claims that Apple is developing an EKG monitor for its smartwatch.
More advanced – and useful – than a standard heart rate sensor, which operates by a method called photoplethysmography, an EKG goes above simply reading back the rhythm of the beat, sending imperceptible currents of electricity to analyze your heart’s behavior.
The EKG tests conducted in hospitals, ambulances, and doctor’s offices only monitor the heart’s activity for a short period of time. “An EKG would make it easier to establish the health of a user’s heart, and potentially spot some cardiac problems early”, the report adds. It’s not clear when Apple could bring the future to market. A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment on the report.