New patent shows Fitbit may be developing tools to measure your blood pressure
In order to measure blood pressure with wearable devices, Fitbit recently applied for a patent for a force-sensitive display. However, as it is just a patent it is not guaranteed that this feature will make it to production on either a Fitbit or Pixel smart watch.
The patent was spotted by The Verge and shows a design that takes inspiration from the standard blood pressure cuff. This differs from the mechanism most watches currently sold in the U.S. that measure blood pressure have.
Instead of using a PPG sensor to accurately gauge blood pressure when worn, this design suggests that blood pressure would be measured similarly to how a normal blood pressure measuring cuff would. This involves obstructing the blood flow in the artery and then gradually relieving the pressure. This then provides the medical staff with the information needed to determine when blood flow resumes (the systolic reading) and when the heart begins to relax once more (diastolic reading).
Though a very interesting design and idea, this is hardly new. Samsung has included blood pressure measuring it on its Galaxy Watches for some time now, though it employs a different mechanism that calls for regular calibration to a conventional cuff and that, due to regulatory restrictions, is not available in the United States. In addition to that, there is the Omron Heart Guide, which is a smartwatch that has been approved by the FDA and whose strap can also be used as an inflatable cuff.
Still, it would be interesting to see what what Fitbit's spin on this technology will look like, that is, if it actually makes it. One of the concerns involves the fact that the Fitbit brand has now taken a backseat to the more premium Pixel brand and the first smartwatch it produced last year. Additionally, patents filed rarely make for a reliable source of news on upcoming product launches, as sometimes they are filed as a legal tool to preserve ideas and "call dibs" on certain innovations.