Samsung update brings the Galaxy Watch 3 and Active 2 ECG and blood pressure features to more places
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Recently at CES, we came across a tack-on case contraption for your phone dubbed Vmed that promises to take a bunch of your vitals in a few seconds. What if you could do this with existing wearables like the smartwatch or bracelet on your wrist?
Apple introduced this option en masse with the approval of the ECG functionality on its Watch, and pulse metering as well as oxygen saturation have been on watches and fitness bands for a while now.
Samsung, however, is now aiming to one-up them all by updating its Galaxy Watch 3 and Active 2 wearables not only with electrocardiogram functionality, but also with a blood pressure reader. Say what?
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 and Active 2 ECG and blood pressure reading update
Back in 2018, we tested the blood pressure monitoring abilities of Samsung's Galaxy S9 and its optical sensor on the back. After an initial control reading from a medical-grade monitor, we found that the phone and the gold standard cuff readings were quite close, to the +/- 5 points degree, and could be useful for crude monitoring of your blood pressure throughout the day.
Samsung's been experimenting with blood pressure monitoring for a while now
Fast forward to 2020, and what was then an experimental feature and a cooperation with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) to leverage the "revolutionary optical sensor" by engaging into a pilot study in digital health, found its way in Samsung's smartwatch lines as an FDA-approved ECG and oxygen saturation reading option.
The Watch 3 and Active 2 are a natural fit as they have a number of sensitive optical heart rate readers underneath, so Samsung applied what it learned from the pilot digital health study with UCSF, and enriched both wearables with blood pressure monitoring and electrocardiogram (ECG) abilities, first in the home turf of Korea, and now in more places.
In the US, the blood pressure tracking is still not part of Samsung's Health Monitor app, and is available as a Watch 3 demo via the MyBP Lab app which is the playground for said UCSF partnership. You can see the experimental feature demo at 1:42 in the MyBP Lab promo video below.
The new features, however, have now all been approved by the European Union's safety, health and environmental body, and the CE mark that Samsung got allows it to expand the new health-tracking options to no less than 31 new countries - Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.
While we are waiting with bated breath for Apple to also introduce blood pressure readings, and a true digital health competition to start with the expected glucose metering on both the Galaxy Watch 4 and Apple Watch 7, it would be useful to check how the feature actually works once it lands on your smart wearable.
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