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.
- And while monitoring your blood oxygen level on an Apple Watch looks cool, for most people the data won't be that useful on its own.