Grab the Apple Watch’s stem and record an ECG in 30 seconds
Apple’s original Watch shipped with two optical heart rate sensors, mainly for tracking the wearer’s heart rate during exercise. Later models added resting heart rate monitoring and alerts, but the device was still basically intended for use with fitness applications. A year ago, the company dipped a wrist into the medical pool, launching a study with Stanford to use the sensors to collect data on irregular heart rhythms and notify users who might be having episodes of atrial fibrillation, suggesting they contact their doctors for follow-up tests—like an electrocardiogram (ECG).
Today, Apple announced that it is building the ability to generate ECGs into its watch. The new Apple Watch Series 4 includes electrodes on the back of the watch (where it touches the wrist) and on the watch stem. To take an ECG, the person wearing the watch launches the app, then touches the watch stem with a finger for 30 seconds. (Putting one of the electrodes on the stem addresses one challenge wearable electrocardiographs have wrestled with—electrodes that are too close together don’t get a good signal.)