Apple Watch Series 8 Could Beat Samsung To This Key Health Sensor

Despite many smartwatches already sporting body temperature sensors, it is yet to appear on devices made by two major players in the segment: Apple and Samsung. While there were rumors about this feature making it to the Apple Watch Series 7 models from last year, that did not happen. According to well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple's decision not to bring the feature to last year's Apple Watch models was conscious.

In a series of tweets, Ming-Chi Kuo said that Apple had decided against adding a body temperature sensor to the Apple Watch Series 7 long before the product entered the final phase of development called engineering validation testing (EVT). Apparently, Apple's self-developed body temperature sensing algorithm failed to meet the company's own requirements during the initial phase of its development itself, leading to the eventual cancellation of the feature.

The tweet mentions several issues that Apple encountered while developing the algorithm. The most important among these was the difficulty Apple reportedly experienced in measuring skin temperature accurately. However, given that the company has been working on solving this problem for several years now, there is a good chance Apple may beat Samsung in the race to bring accurate body temperature sensors to smartwatches.

The complicated art of measuring body temperature

Measuring body temperature may sound like a simple process, but when you pay closer attention, you will notice that getting an accurate reading on a thermometer is a fairly invasive process. Current methods of precise body temperature measurement include placing the bulb of a thermometer in the mouth (under the tongue), under the armpit, or, in rare circumstances, inside the rectum.

As amply evident, all these "ideal" locations that provide the greatest possible accuracy are invasive — and are located very far from where an average smartwatch would be worn. Additionally, these methods measure something called the core body temperature, which is different from the surface temperature that modern smartwatches typically measure.

Most smartwatches that offer the body temperature measurement feature today use sensors that simply measure the skin's surface temperature. As outlined already, this is not the ideal method because the skin temperature is highly dependent on the ambient temperature. The surface temperature of a person also varies depending on changes in the person's activity, unlike their core body temperature. With no established method currently available for smartwatches to monitor core body temperature, they are dependent on algorithms to do the task for them. Most just choose the aforementioned simpler — but less accurate — option of measuring the skin temperature.

Apple may beat Samsung in this race

Apple has a lot of resources and a large team of engineers trying to solve this problem and develop a trustworthy algorithm that accurately measures body temperature, and it has been at it for a really long time now. Moreover, given the fact that Apple reportedly intended to get the body temperature measurement feature on its 2021 smartwatch model, there is an excellent chance of the feature making it to the Apple Watch Series 8 lineup. Ming-Chi Kuo, in fact, states in his tweet that the feature could arrive on the next generation of Apple Watch models if the algorithm meets Apple's requirements this time around.

He does not, however, share the same enthusiasm about the Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 series getting the feature. This is in contrast to earlier media reports talking about the possibility of some Galaxy Watch 5 models getting a body temperature sensor (via UberGizmo). Samsung, like Apple, is also working to develop a similar algorithm, and it has reportedly been beset by similar challenges.