Health and fitness tracking is the latest rage in smart wearables, and the Samsung Galaxy Watch has just cleared a major hurdle in the race to adopt a major new feature.
For the first time, the United States Food and Drug Administration has approved a sleep apnea detection feature in a smartwatch.
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According to a press release, the feature should be available in the Galaxy Watch series in the third quarter of this year and will be able to identify signs of moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea by tracking the wearer’s sleep twice. in a 10-day window, more than four hours at a time.
Samsung says the tracker is intended for users age 22 or older who have not been diagnosed with sleep apnea.
One of the main symptoms of sleep apnea is a decrease in the level of oxygen in the blood due to difficulty in breathing. The Galaxy Watch can monitor blood oxygen levels, and if a pattern of drops develops, the user will be notified by the Samsung Health Monitor app, which is only available on Samsung phones.
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Sleep apnea is often undiagnosed and untreated in the early stages, Samsung says, and this feature should “enable more people to proactively see the symptoms of the condition, encourage early detection, and further reduce the likelihood of health-related complications.”
Doctors warn that smartphones and watches can be unreliable when it comes to detecting sleep apnea, but that hasn’t stopped manufacturers, including Apple and Fitbit, from trying to add the feature. Apple is reportedly working on a similar feature, but that one has yet to receive FDA clearance.
Samsung has added some warnings about the new feature. It should not be used to replace traditional methods of diagnosis and treatment by a qualified clinician, and the data provided by this device are not intended to help doctors diagnose sleep disorders.
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The company also added that due to market restrictions surrounding medical device registration, sleep apnea detection may be prevented if the user travels to a market where the watch is not yet available as a medical device.
Sleep apnea detection joins several other health-related tracking features on the Galaxy Watch, including blood pressure monitoring, electrocardiogram analysis, and irregular heart rhythm notifications .