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Apple yesterday announced the Apple Watch Series 6 with a new sensor that enables blood oxygen monitoring capabilities, but Apple did not clarify which countries the feature would be available in.

apple-watch-series-6-blood-oxygen-monitoring-1.jpg

Some health capabilities, like ECG and irregular heart rate notifications, have been limited in availability because of regulatory requirements, but it appears that those requirements don't apply to the blood oxygen monitoring feature.

According to the Apple Watch Feature Availability page, blood oxygen monitoring is available in more than 100 countries, suggesting there are no health-related regulatory issues that Apple has to overcome. A support document on using blood oxygen monitoring does mention that it's only available in "certain countries and regions," however, so there may be some omissions.

Those who are interested in purchasing an Apple Watch Series 6 specifically for the feature should double check the availability page to make sure blood oxygen monitoring is supported in their country.

Measuring blood oxygen with the Apple Watch Series 6 is done through the new Blood Oxygen app. It uses a series of red and green LEDs and infrared light to measure the amount of light reflected by the skin, with advanced algorithms using this data to calculate the color of the blood to derive the blood oxygen level. Bright red blood has more oxygen, while darker red blood has less.

The Apple Watch Series 6 is available for purchase from Apple's online store, with orders set to arrive starting this Friday.

Article Link: Apple Watch Series 6 Blood Oxygen Monitoring Available in Most Countries Worldwide
 
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bhagemann

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Jan 18, 2012
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It sure would be nice to find info on its stated accuracy range to see how it compares to the fingertip meter I have. The caveats about 'not for medical diagnostic purposes' are understandable, but whats the real world potential look like? I'm thinking this will be a popular use case these days.
 
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PickUrPoison

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It sure would be nice to find info on its stated accuracy range to see how it compares to the fingertip meter I have. The caveats about 'not for medical diagnostic purposes' are understandable, but whats the real world potential look like? I'm thinking this will be a popular use case these days.
I’m sure there will be comparisons from the usual clickbait tech tubers on day one. Looking forward to a thumbnail with some guy with a screwed up expression on his face and doing some weird pose with his hands 🙄

Anyway, it’s great this feature doesn’t have to go through regulatory approvals. But Apple talks about blood oxygen levels, not O2 sat. There (can be) a big difference.
 
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Ntombi

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Jul 1, 2008
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Bostonian exiled in SoCal
It sure would be nice to find info on its stated accuracy range to see how it compares to the fingertip meter I have. The caveats about 'not for medical diagnostic purposes' are understandable, but whats the real world potential look like? I'm thinking this will be a popular use case these days.

Agreed.

I use my pulse oximeter regularly (severe asthma), and when mine comes, I’ll be doing some contemporaneous comparisons right away. I need to know whether I can rely on it.
 
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nitramluap

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Apr 26, 2015
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Pulse oximetry is quite a simple and well established technology (>40 years) so there is absolutely no reason it won't be as accurate as the ones we use in hospital.

It will also be just as temperamental as the red (and infrared) LED is much more prone to interference. It's the reason why they will continue to use the green LED for plain pulse tracking - much more accurate & less susceptible to interference - particularly with exercise or any movement really.

So it will be:
- Green LED -> Exercising pulse rate*
- Red & Infrared -> Pulse Oximetry, foreground & background (+/- green LED to help lock onto the pulse rate**)
- Infrared -> background pulse rate reading when not moving*

* Just like all Apple Watches since day one.
** This is where Apple might be able to improve on existing tech

EDIT:
My money is on Apple introducing a Sleep Apnoea detection function next. The pieces of the puzzle are all there already:
- pulse oximetry
- movement detection
- noise detection

Disclosure: Anaesthesiologist
 
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nitramluap

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Apr 26, 2015
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Really wish it could read during a workout, but it says background measurements only happen when you are not moving.

Yes, see my comment above.

It's just simply not possible due to the way pulse oximeters work. They're basically 'looking' at a tiny pulsatile component in a much bigger signal and the slightest movement of your skin, etc. can be enough to confuse it.

But there is really no need to take a reading *during* exercise. If you feel the need, just pause, then take a reading.
 
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nitramluap

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Apr 26, 2015
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Yes, I made this point here in another thread yesterday. 'Blood Oxygen Levels' does not equate to 'Pulse Oximetry'.

But even my colleague there simplifies it somewhat...

You can be hypoxic even if your pulse oximetry is normal and your Hb levels are normal.

How?
If a large proportion of your Hb is in a form that can't carry oxygen (eg. from carbon monoxide poisoning). However, if you ran a sample of the same blood through a laboratory *co-oximeter* it would show that your true saturations are in fact low.

Pulse oximeters measure functional oxygen saturation, ie. what percentage of Hb that can carry oxygen (ie functional Hb), is carrying oxygen. Even hospital pulse oximeters are limited in this way.

Laboratory co-oximeters measure fractional saturation, ie. what percentage of all Hb is carrying oxygen.

In short, if your Hb is normal (ie. you're not anaemic) and there is no chance there is a lot of abnormal Hb floating around (Met-Hb, Carboxy-Hb) then pulse oximetry is a good indicator of 'oxygen levels'.

None of this really matters to the user, but they really should rename 'Blood Oxygen Levels' to 'Pulse Oximetry'. It's correctly named in the 'Health' app.

If you were significantly anaemic you'd also have an abnormally increased heart rate so perhaps the Watch might pick up on that? I just feel sorry for all my US friends that have to pay lots of money to see a General Practitioner. We pay almost nothing here in Australia (but we do pay - happily - more tax for that benefit).
 
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canyonblue737

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Jan 10, 2005
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It sure would be nice to find info on its stated accuracy range to see how it compares to the fingertip meter I have. The caveats about 'not for medical diagnostic purposes' are understandable, but whats the real world potential look like? I'm thinking this will be a popular use case these days.

other watches have had this now for several years and the trick for accuracy is the arm must be still. Since Apple had the “countdown“ during a manual check it gets you to keep your arm still like an ekg so it should be very accurate I bet. As for ones taken during the day and night automatically I bet there is an algorithm looking for when you have been still and hopefully throwing out attempted readings when you move in the middle because you didn’t know it was taking one. I bet it is very very good.
 
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Apple_Robert

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Sep 21, 2012
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In the middle of several books.
I’m sure there will be comparisons from the usual clickbait tech tubers on day one. Looking forward to a thumbnail with some guy with a screwed up expression on his face and doing some weird pose with his hands 🙄

Anyway, it’s great this feature doesn’t have to go through regulatory approvals. But Apple talks about blood oxygen levels, not O2 sat. There (can be) a big difference.
I would rather see an analysis and comparison done by a licensed Pulmonologist. I won’t hold my breathe waiting on that video.
 
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ikramerica

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Apr 10, 2009
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While I know people want it to be accurate and meaningful, as a tool it’s only really useful if it drops below 95% with multiple readings and you don’t feel well. Then go to urgent care and have them check your vitals more professionally.
My guess though is it will be more accurate than the fingertip home models because they take readings too quickly and are very influenced with just how your finger is positioned. Sometimes they can read 95 and sometimes you readjust and it’s 98 or 99. But again, consistently below 95, and under the weather, see a doctor.
 
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incoherent_1

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Oct 19, 2016
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As it is currently implemented, I don't see how this is anything but an extremely niche feature.
  • It's not "automatic" -- you need to actively trigger an O2 sat reading, meaning that probably 95-98% of users will never touch it after first month of ownership.
  • It's doesn't seem well integrated -- just telling someone their O2 sat doesn't really do much without context, triggers, notifications, combinations with other data, etc.
  • I've used O2 sat devices more than anyone I know, but I only use them while climbing to extreme altitudes. That's a multi-day trek, so having it in an AW with a 1-2 day battery life is meaningless
I'm not say it's a bad feature, just that it doesn't feel very Apple -- it's a solution in search of a problem. If they had provided sleep apnea detection out of the box, then that would've made much much more sense.
 
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CrEsTo

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Jun 23, 2006
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Surely there will be a way to spoof your location so you can gain access to all the features even if it’s not available in your region. Australia isn’t getting ECG or irregular rhythm notification :(
 
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PickUrPoison

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As it is currently implemented, I don't see how this is anything but an extremely niche feature.

It's not "automatic" -- you need to actively trigger an O2 sat reading, meaning that probably 95-98% of users will never touch it after first month of ownership.
<snip>
It does take periodic measurements in the background, on its own. The health app has settings to adjust how often that occurs.
 
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PickUrPoison

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Surely there will be a way to spoof your location so you can gain access to all the features even if it’s not available in your region. Australia isn’t getting ECG or irregular rhythm notification :(
It’s already available in Australia and 100+ other countries, as there are apparently no regulatory issues with pulse oximetry devices in most countries.

re: the ECG/irregular rhythm detection, you’re in luck there as well. Next year (March iirc) your TGA is finally updating the regulations that have prevented Australians from using those features. (With current rules/regs, neither the Watch nor any similar ECG devices were approvable.)
 
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