Fitbit Gets Approval for Potentially Lifesaving New Feature

Fitbit Gets Approval for Potentially Lifesaving New Feature

Arriving on your wrist soon.

Google is attempting to gain approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an algorithm that will allow its fitness trackers to continuously monitor your heart rhythm for irregularities, increasing the likelihood of detecting potential problems early.


Picture: glassdoor

In part to their EKG sensors, which detect and record the timing of electrical impulses that cause your heart to beat, the Fitbit Sense and Charge 5 are two of the best Fitbits currently available. A notification will appear on the device's screen if the watch detects an abnormal rhythm (atrial fibrillation). The Fitbit mobile app can generate a report to share with your doctor. 

The validation was partially motivated by a 2020 heart study that followed 450,000 people for five months and discovered that Fitbit's technology was 98 percent effective at detecting atrial fibrillation episodes as a purpose-built ECG patch to detect atrial fibrillation.

Neither the Fitbit Charge 5 nor the Fitbit Sense are equipped with electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors to detect atrial fibrillation signs. However, these sensors will only work if you activate the appropriate app on your watch and press your fingers against the case for one minute.

The app can't diagnose a heart condition; however, it will generate a report that you can share with your physician if it detects a potential problem.

However, it is something that most people do not have the time to do regularly, and it will only detect irregularities that appear during the brief period that you are conducting the scan. 

No longer will you have to take time away from your day to scan for viruses and other malware. Instead, your Fitbit will automatically check in with you at predetermined intervals (approximately every two hours, depending on your activity levels) without requiring any manual intervention. If the watch detects an irregularity, it will run several additional scans to confirm the finding before displaying an alert. 

When Is It Coming?

Fitbit submitted an application for FDA approval in March. Now that the company has received approval, the company is free to launch a watch that includes passive ECG monitoring in the United States of America. It will still require regulatory approval in other countries before it can be made available worldwide. Still, as we've seen in the past, the company frequently releases new devices with sensors that are only available in specific regions rather than waiting for approval from international regulators.

We don't anticipate it to be a firmware upgrade, on the other hand. Although both the Fitbit Sense and the Fitbit Charge 5 have ECG sensors, they are not in contact with the skin, so we have serious doubts about whether they will be suitable for passive ECG monitoring. However, You will not need to wait long before you can upgrade to a watch that includes the necessary hardware configuration.


Picture: businesswire

It's possible that passive ECG monitoring will be the most notable feature of the Fitbit Sense 2, which is expected to ship around August this year. 

References to three new Fitbit devices were discovered in the installation files for the official Fitbit mobile application earlier this month. Two of them (codenamed Hera and Rhea) appear to have square displays with a resolution similar to the Fitbit Sense and Versa 3. In contrast, the third (codenamed Nyota) appears to have a rectangular display similar to the Fitbit Inspire 2. All three of those devices were released at the same time in 2020, so it stands to reason that Fitbit would release their successors simultaneously.

Maintaining a vigilant ear to the ground for any new information on all three watches,  let us know if we study anything new about them. 

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Jessica Vieira
Jessica Vieira
Jessica Vieira is ProductReviews's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology.