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The new Apple Watch Series 6. Photo: Apple

The newest version of the Apple Watch is part of a slew of devices that enable people to monitor their health away from a doctor's office.

Why it matters: The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a shift to health monitoring in the home, and companies are rushing to meet the demand.

What's happening: Apple on Tuesday announced its Watch Series 6, with a focus on the device's health capabilities.

  • Already able to detect heart rate, perform an electrocardiogram and track physical activity, the new version can now determine blood oxygen levels through LED clusters and photodiodes.
  • Blood oxygen saturation can be a useful indicator of health, especially during the pandemic. Many severe cases of COVID-19 are marked by alarmingly low blood oxygen levels, even before patients begin experiencing respiratory distress.

Details: The new Apple Watch is one of many remote health monitoring devices being rolled out by tech and health companies alike.

  • The change is being driven by more accurate devices as well as a shift in patients themselves, who increasingly want to optimize wellness, not just avoid illness.
  • "This is a golden moment for distributed medicine and at-home diagnostics," says Siddarth Satish, the CEO of Gauss, a machine-vision startup that developed the first completely at-home COVID-19 test with the biotech company Cellex.

Yes, but: It's still not clear exactly how many of these devices "ultimately fit into a user’s care continuum," notes Erin Brodwin in STAT News.

Go deeper: Apple just significantly deepened its bet on services

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Dec 16, 2020 - Health

How mass rapid tests could help curb the pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Vastly expanded approval and distribution of rapid, at-home tests represents a powerful tool in the fight against COVID-19 — and just possibly, the future of disease diagnostics.

Why it matters: Vaccines will take time to arrest the spread of the coronavirus — even without problems around distribution and acceptance. Some experts believe mass rapid testing could quickly identify who is really at risk of spreading COVID-19 and turn around the out-of-control pandemic in the U.S.

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine Thursday night, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.

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