iWatch May Use Optical Sensors to Measure Heart Rate and Oxygen Levels

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple's iWatch may include optical sensors designed to measure physical functions like heart rate and oxygen levels, according to electronics analyst Sun Chang Xu of Chinese site Electrical Engineering Times [Google Translation], who cites supply chain sources with knowledge of the matter. Xu also indicated that while Apple had planned on glucose monitoring, non-invasive methods have proven to be highly inaccurate and thus may not be included in the final product.

    Measuring oxygen levels and heart rate are two features the iWatch has been previously rumored to include and optical sensors, which are used in many medical and health-related products, are a logical choice for the smart watch.

    Pulse oximetry devices, which are often designed to fit over a finger, use optical sensors to measure oxygen levels in the blood. These sensors are light-based, sending two wavelengths of light through the skin. Differences in the way the light is absorbed allows the device to detect oxygen saturation in the blood. The majority of pulse oximeters clip to a fingertip or an earlobe, suggesting a wrist-based pulse oximeter is difficult, but not impossible, to develop.

    Monitoring heart rate via optical sensor is a newer technology that is incorporated into several fitness products including the Mio Alpha heart rate watch. Typical heart rate monitoring in the past has required a chest strap, but with an optical sensor, a light shone on the skin can be used to measure blood flow through capillaries, thus determining heart rate.

    The Mio Alpha heart rate monitoring watch​
    MacRumors spoke to Mio founder and CEO Liz Dickinson about the possibility of an optical heart rate measurement tool in the iWatch, and she believes the company would absolutely opt for electro-optical sensing for such a function. She also suggested an iWatch with heart-rate measuring capabilities would need to fit tightly to the wrist.
    Electro-optical sensing also requires careful calibration to overcome interference from motion and noise. The Mio Alpha incorporates a built-in accelerometer and noise filtration software to garner accurate readings, and it is possible Apple might adopt some of the same technology.

    Underside of the Mio Alpha heart rate-sensing watch (Courtesy of DC Rainmaker)
    Over the course of the last several months, Apple has hired a number of health experts in fields related to both heart rate monitoring and pulse oximetry. Two executives from pulse-oximetry company Masimo joined Apple, including its former Chief Medical Officer. Several of Apple's health-related hires have also been from C8 MediSensors, a company focused on non-invasive blood monitoring sensors.

    While it is unclear exactly which health-related functions the final iWatch product might measure, rumors have indicated it will include multiple sensors capable of not only measuring heart rate and oxygen level, but also movement, sleep, hydration levels, and more.

    Article Link: iWatch May Use Optical Sensors to Measure Heart Rate and Oxygen Levels
  2. macrumors 68020


    Dec 9, 2008
    If this is true, it'll be a huge hit with coma patients!
  3. macrumors regular

    Aug 28, 2003
    Zurich, Switzerland
    As long as it does not link right into the blood system, it's not worth it.
    Let's wait for all the beta tester to find out about it.
  4. NutsNGum, Feb 14, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014

    macrumors 68030


    Jul 30, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    Analyst believes iWatch may include method of accurately determining time of day.
  5. macrumors 68020

    Mr. Gates

    Jun 17, 2009
    --Redmond --------- ----------------Washington---
    Am I the only one NOT looking forward to everyone walking around wearing the exact SAME watch ?
  6. macrumors member

    Oct 14, 2013
    do you own a windows phone? because no one uses that.
  7. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 6, 2010
    Basically this! That's one thing I love about watches, how unique they are.
  8. macrumors 68000

    Apr 22, 2008
    Apple's watch will dance circles around the competition, will be completely different internally and externally and will do 10x as many things, but I can absolutely guarantee their fanboys will bleat on about Apple copying them.

    And then they'll continue to chant the same story when the competition's 2nd gen offerings all follow Apple's lead.
  9. macrumors 65816


    Dec 5, 2012
    In other news, analyst predicts that the iWatch may be a health-related item!
  10. Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Q Division, Los Angeles
    It's Apple's fault that I stopped wearing a watch some years back, because it was just as easy to glance at my iPhone. Now they want to change my mind again!

    I'm more comfortable without a watch, so they'll have to make a strong case for me to switch habits again. Here's an idea for them: I'd like my iWatch to continuously measure and display my IQ. That way if I start watching a sitcom I'll notice the value dropping (can I have an alarm too?) and I can get off the sofa before it's too late!
  11. macrumors regular

    May 20, 2006
    There is no iWatch. Its just the biggest game of smoke and mirrors a company has ever played. LOL
  12. macrumors 65816


    Oct 4, 2004
    Oslo, Norway
    Post of the month. Made me laugh out load
  13. macrumors 68020

    Mr. Gates

    Jun 17, 2009
    --Redmond --------- ----------------Washington---
    There are soooo many things wrong with your comment.

    For shame
  14. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 13, 2002
    Cold Spring Harbor, NY
    Don't worry, the band will be available in black AND brown!
  15. macrumors member

    Feb 10, 2014
    Yes of course. Not.
  16. macrumors 68020


    Feb 28, 2009
    Can confirm SpO2 will be hard to get via a watch - I worked on pulse oximetry when it was being developed in the late 80s. Most, if not the vast majority of the R&D was done on light being passed through something - a finger or earlobe.

    A watch won't be able to do that, it will have to depend on reflectivity - unless they're going to put a massively bright set of LEDs on the other side of the wrist.

    Calculating SpO2, while not hard, requires a ton of lab research to get the parameters that go into the calculation right. This would all have to be re-done based on reflectivity, not a huge effort but it would involve a type of research I suspect Apple hasn't come close to before.

    Plus, the FDA will have to be on-board.

    Impressive if they can get it done, there are challenges involved.
  17. macrumors 604


    Apr 21, 2003
    In another analysis of components of the iWatch, XYZ Co of Ireland stated that the iWatch could probably consist of a strap that will allow the owner to wear the product on their wrist.
  18. macrumors 6502a


    Sep 22, 2007
    Rotterdam, The Netherlands
    A cracker! :)
  19. macrumors 65816


    Mar 11, 2009
    A Kin! He's got a Kin!
  20. macrumors G3


    Feb 10, 2011
    There haven't been any rumors that it may actually tell time. What if it doesn't? :D
  21. macrumors 6502a

    Mar 9, 2009
    This is going to be marketed & branded as an iPod Nano.
  22. macrumors G3


    Feb 10, 2011
    Everyone wearing the same watch and using the same phone. What was the point of that Apple 1984 commercial again? I can't remember. :confused: :D
  23. macrumors 68040

    Lesser Evets

    Jan 7, 2006
    This is clearly something I need

    ...to leave un-purchased.
  24. macrumors newbie

    Feb 14, 2008
    I currently own the Basis watch, http://www.mybasis.com

    This watch comes with HR monitor, skin temp & perspiration, as well as the basic pedometer/moving calculations.

    They recently updated the firmware & software to track more sleep detail - including deep, REM, etc.

    Sample sleep data attached.

    My experience so far

    Pain to sync - Ive owned fitbit devices before and they are not finicky like basis - though they track less data too.

    Battery performance is low.

    Ugly watch.

    Dim, very dim display.

    Software - and here is where Apple could do some disrupting - ok, lots of data, but what does it all mean? They comment on their forum, in response to questions, if the sleep score is high, indicating *good* sleep, so why do I feel like crap? Their answer is basically there are lots of *factors* at play, which affects how the person feels. LOL. We all know that intrinsically, so if the data doesn't correspond, or reveal those parameters that might play a role in the final result, what's the friggin point????

    What do the measurements really tell us, & what areas do we change to improve, etc?

    There really is nothing along these lines in terms of the software analysis (for any system). IMO, a typical new user will become disinterested in the novelly aspect if their isn't any real value. One or two generations, and sales might suffer if this is one of the principal selling features.

    I thought that with the additional info, the calorie tracking would be more accurate, but Im not sure this data is incorporated into the calculations - some forum threads indicate it is not. That would agree with my experience, as the fitbit is within 1% (or less) of the Basis results - indicating they are using traditional formulas, age, weight, steps....

    Im very interested in the bio-data, obviously. But without some sensible software that is actually helpful, not sure how important this will be in the long run.

    The other features such as facilitating less need to have a phone in hand, e.g., weather, texts, etc, would be as important - if not more - in the event Apple can't come through with intelligent collection & analysis of the bio-data.

    One exception - for diabetics, clearly having glucose monitoring is a big, big result. It would take a company the size of Apple to get the proper certifications, etc.

    Attached Files:

  25. macrumors 6502a


    Mar 28, 2009
    Living Stateside
    Think different. As long as your different looks exactly the same as my different.

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