Detecting irregular heartbeats, a.k.a. atrial fibrillation or AFib, has become a hot thing in the wearable tech market thanks to the Apple Watch. Now almost everyone wants to have that feature, too, including Withings and Suunto. It might only take a matter of time for Google, who recently purchased Fitbit, to follow suit but, for now, its Alphabet sibling Verily has gotten a head start now that its Study Watch has gotten the FDA clearance for its Irregular Pulse Monitor for detecting AFib.
Just to jog the memories after so long a time, Verily is one of the companies that was spun out of Google back when it was broken up to become one big Alphabet family. The company focuses mostly on medical technologies, like Google’s old glucose-measuring Smart Lens that was shelved not too long ago. It turns out that it has been putting its focus on the Study Watch, a medical device that looks exactly like an E-Ink smartwatch.
A little over a year ago, Verily shared the joyous news that the watch’s electrocardiogram feature, better known as ECG, was similarly given FDA clearance. This new approval of its AFib detection functionality puts it closer to matching the Apple Watch’s much-praised features. AFib is considered to be one of the silent killers of today and Apple’s smartwatch has already been credited for saving lives through early detection that got people actually getting checked up.
The Verily Study Watch, however, differs considerably from the Apple Watch in two ways. The difference in design seems almost minor but utilizing a simpler software platform and e-paper technology means it can achieve an uptime of days, something the Apple Watch can only dream of.
The more significant difference is that the Study Watch is meant to be a medical device primarily and a timepiece only secondarily. Verily has partnered with iRhythm whose Zio service will be used for round-the-clock monitoring and analytics. It might, however, only be a matter of time before it lends the technology to Google for a future Fitbit wearable with these exact same features.