Apple had big plans for its Apple Watch before it launched last year but had to scrap many of its more forward-thinking features, including an electrocardiogram sensor or EKG. But one company, AliveCor, wants to add the feature retroactively with its own strap.
It’s called Kardia. Like many of AliveCor’s iPhone cases, the strap uses a metal sensor to take a 30-second EKG reading through a dedicated app. You can even set up the Apple Watch app so that it will send information to a physician if things look dire. People can also dictate symptoms or current conditions through the microphone on the Apple Watch.
The one big caveat to these impressive claims is that the strap still needs FDA approval (510k) in order to be considered a medical device. That’s not to mention what it will have to go through to be approved in Australia. The AliveCor team seems confident, however, saying they expect the strap to be FDA approved and ready for purchase in the US sometime this autumn.
The Kardia would certainly be a boon for people with atrial fibrillation and other diseases with high stroke risk. It also demonstrates an important future of the smartwatch. In an interview this week with Business Insider, the director of Android Wear said that in 50 years smartwatches could “act as your ‘agent’ in the internet-connected world around you, and keep you healthy — even talking to your doctor before you ever realise you’re sick”. Emphasis on could.
AliveCor’s EKG reader could be the beginning of that far-flung future.