How many killer features are in Apple Watch? The device is packed with features from LTE to GPS, from heart rate monitor to notifications. The only one that counts as a killer feature– and less killer and more lifesaver– is the heart rate monitor.
Say what you will about Watch as an iPhone accessory, or fashion statement, or exercise tracker, or annoying notification machine, the heart rate monitor works better than you’ll find on any similar device. It works, works well, and gets better over time.
What about the other two killer features in Watch?
Sorry, they are not yet available. So, what’s next?
One market analyst believes Apple Watch 4, due soon to an Apple Store near you, will have built-in electrocardiography. An ECG, or EKG.
First, an always on, constantly tracking heart rate monitor. Second, built-in electrocardiography.
Electrocardiography (ECG or EKG) is the process of recording the electrical activity of the heart over a period of time using electrodes placed over the skin. These electrodes detect the tiny electrical changes on the skin that arise from the heart muscle’s electrophysiologic pattern of depolarizing and repolarizing during each heartbeat. It is very commonly performed to detect any cardiac problems.
ECG/EKG’s are somewhat convoluted and require a visit to a doctor’s office. Apple Watch with a built-in ECG/EKG monitor would revolutionize data capture on a large scale to the benefit of both patient and the medical community.
That’s two features. What about the third?
While both heart rate monitoring and ECG/EKG monitoring in a wearable device are major breakthroughs, the third– blood glucose monitoring– would be truly revolutionary; something along the lines of a health and high tech holy grail. Over 100-million people have diabetes and a few hundred more are in danger.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Hyperglycaemia, or raised blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body’s systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels.
Diabetics monitor blood glucose through frequent blood tests which often involve painful needle pricks– an effort which could be reduced for many via Apple Watch of the future. Are there benefits to reducing diabetes as a threat?
- Adults with diabetes have a two- to three-fold increased risk of heart attacks and strokes (2).
- Combined with reduced blood flow, neuropathy (nerve damage) in the feet increases the chance of foot ulcers, infection and eventual need for limb amputation.
- Diabetic retinopathy is an important cause of blindness, and occurs as a result of long-term accumulated damage to the small blood vessels in the retina. 2.6% of global blindness can be attributed to diabetes (3).
- Diabetes is among the leading causes of kidney failure (4).
Is Apple working on a blood glucose monitor? Without question. When will such a feature show up in Watch? Guesses are free, but we will get an idea of progress if Apple introduces a new Watch model with built-in ECG/EKG monitoring.