Next to a few new Iphones, Apple presented its fourth generation of watches at its Special Event. The most noteworthy spec is the integration of a single lead electrocardiogram (ECG) that allows for the detection of atrial fibrillation. Moreover, it also detects general cardiac arrhythmia and also notices when a person falls which will consequently trigger a request to call the emergency services.
What does this mean?
Apple’s ECG is classified by the FDA as Class II over-the-counter hardware and software. Hence, the Apple Watch is thereby not a serious medical grade device, but is instead more comparable to a home-pregnancy kit in terms of safety and effectiveness. In comparison, medical grade cardiograms rely on 12 –lead ECG, which results in a more precise diagnosis. Nevertheless, Apple’s move into more serious health features is already leaving its mark on the wearable market (e.g. Fitbit 5% down since the Apple Watch announcement) and home diagnosis equipment (e.g. Alivecor, iRythm).
Even though the ECG is not an FDA approved medical device, these improved health features will help Apple to move further into the health domain. Consequently, a successful association with health care, which demands robust and secure handling of private data and safe wearable equipment, could generate more trust in Apple as an intimate computing company. This trust could become advantageous in the long run, enabling Apple to push into the realm of wearable and pervasive computing (e.g. disappearing computer, AR).