Apple is developing an integrated EKG heart monitor for Apple Watch

“Apple Inc. is developing an advanced heart-monitoring feature for future versions of its smartwatch, part of a broader push by the company to turn what was once a luxury fashion accessory into a serious medical device, according to people familiar with the plan,” Alex Webb reports for Bloomberg. “A version being tested requires users to squeeze the frame of the Apple Watch with two fingers from the hand that’s not wearing the device, one of the people said. It then passes an imperceptible current across the person’s chest to track electrical signals in the heart and detect any abnormalities like irregular heart rates.”

“These medical tests, known as electrocardiograms or EKGs and ECGs, are common in doctors’ offices, hospitals and ambulances. But they only monitor the heart’s activity for short periods, limiting their ability to spot potential abnormalities,” Webb reports. “The development process is ongoing and Apple may still decide not to include the technology in future products, the people said. They asked not to be identified talking about private plans. ”

Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular). The freedom to go with just your Apple Watch.
Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular). The freedom to go with just your Apple Watch.

“One hurdle to tech companies such as Apple entering the medical-device market has been the stringent testing requirements imposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The agency outlined proposals in July to use more computer testing to speed up approvals, potentially helping new entrants,” Webb reports. “Apple Watch users can already buy an EKG made by AliveCor Inc. that is built into the watch’s strap. The startup’s device and its algorithm have received FDA approval. ”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Further separation and even more differentiation for Apple Watch looms.

There’s Apple Watch, a sophisticated, secure wrist-borne computer with the backing of major hospitals, medical researchers, insurance providers, and more. And, then there’s a bunch of toy stupidwatches. The Apple Watch wannabes are roadkill.

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AliveCor’s Kardiaband EKG reader becomes first Apple Watch accessory to win FDA approval as a medical device – November 30, 2017
Apple Heart Study launches to identify irregular heart rhythms – November 30, 2017
AliveCor’s Kardiaband EKG reader becomes first Apple Watch accessory to win FDA approval as a medical device – November 30, 2017
John Hancock offers Apple Watch Series 3 for only $25 to all Vitality life insurance customers – October 23, 2017
Apple Heart Study could turn Apple Watch into a ‘must have’ for millions of patients – September 12, 2017
Apple and Aetna hold secret meetings to bring Apple Watch to the insurer’s 23 million members – August 14, 2017
Apple Watch the most accurate heart rate monitor in new fitness tracker study – May 24, 2017
Apple Watch helps doctors detect the leading cause of heart failure with 97% accuracy – May 12, 2017
Apple patents advanced heart rate monitor for Apple Watch – October 6, 2016
In major win for Apple, Aetna becomes first insurance company to subsidize Apple Watch – September 27, 2016
New ‘SweatCoin’ iPhone app pays people to get fit – May 5, 2016
Why you’ll wear an Apple Watch to keep your job – March 14, 2016
Share your fitness data for an Apple Watch – or cash – March 2, 2016
Tim Cook hints Apple might build a health device – November 10, 2015
Apple should double down on Apple Watch’s health sensors, battery life, and waterproofing – October 2, 2015
Health insurer will charge more for lazy people, less for active people, based on Apple Watch sensors – September 18, 2015
Apple Watch heart rate data vs. Mio dedicated heart rate monitor – May 7, 2015


  1. It’s been said before, but just as the iPhone pulled a brilliant Trojan horse trick (by shipping pocket computers under the guise of cellphones), so will the Apple Watch (by shipping health monitors/lightweight computers as watches). The Apple Watch will never sell in iPhone-like numbers, but what other consumer product ever will? Once the watch adds blood pressure and glucose tracking, it’s really over for the competitors.

      1. Uh, so you realize I’m a fan of the Apple Watch, right? My point is that Apple sold about 210 million iPhones in 2016. Think about how many gadgets the iPhone has replaced, and tell me you honestly believe they’ll ever do half that number selling Apple Watches…

  2. A typical EKG requires approximately twelve electrodes placed on the chest, arms, and legs. A Holter monitor uses five leads. So how does Apple Watch measure EKG? Are users required to always wear 5 to 12 electrodes continuously? C’mon, fanboys, answer these questions.

    1. You are asking all the wrong questions. If you comprehended the article, you would have noted that a third party vendor has already marketed an Apple Watch band accessory that has been approved by the FDA as a medically accurate EKG monitor system. (By the way, I own that accessory and it works easily and enough. I compared it’s data to my EKG reading from my annual physical exam last month with my Doctor. She and her staff were impressed. )

      Apple’s EKG technology works in a very similar manner to that third party EKG watchband accessory and software. So the question is not that Apple’s tech is capable of performing a medically accurate EKG scan, but rather will Apple’s tech infringe upon that vendor’s patents – if any. And if so, will Apple’s legal arm be able to solve any business conflicts that might arise with this particular vendor before Apple brings this tech to market. (I suspect Apple will)

      1. Accurate enough? What’s that mean? Your are still avoiding the question how many leads Apple Watch uses. Perhaps you can enlighten use regarding the electrophysiology of heart rhythms and cardiac monitoring. I, for one, can’t wait.

        1. According to published reports, AliveCor’s EKG/ECG Apple Watchband system is at least 90 percent medically accurate. However, their method becomes far more useful when multiple EKG readings are recorded over time thus establishing a known personnel history chart for medical analysis.

          Their method received FDA medical certification. As a retired corporate powertrain engineer for a major automotive firm, I learned to respect professionals in their field of expertise – as they respected my engineering acumen. This is an important note. Professionals value trust and respect.

          Now, to answer your questions specifically, I am just a layman in this field. But I trust my physician’s analysis of my EKG results performed in her office last month and her analysis of AliveCor’s EKG results that I took on my Apple Watch 3. She pointed out a few things to this layman (the medical details of which I won’t go into) in her comparisons between the two data sets. I trust her opinion that I can continue to use this device on my wrist and that it would be of long term medical benefit to me.

          Now, a quick search of the internet with a query resembling “How to analyze EKG results” reveals an amazing wealth of information that might satisfy your curiosity. There are even YouTube videos with the titles “Introduction to EKG Rhythm Interpretation” Wow-there is a video on everything it seems. There is even a Wikipedia section on EKG. I do confess that I have come across “P-Wave forms” terminology more than once in my 64 years but, like I stated, any “enlightenment” I could give you on the subject about cardiac monitoring or a basic understanding of electrophysiology would be from a layman’s point of view – so I suggest you don’t hold your breath waiting. Grin. But I must caution you King Khan, just because one views a YouTube video on the subject or reads a few articles, that does not make on a professional in that field. I, for one, have enough self-respect to know that I am not such an expert.

          And, in reality, whatever method AliveCor or Apple uses to measure EKG – if that method is granted FDA medical certification – is irrelevant. It could be totally different than how EKGs have been measured in the past. 1 electrode, 5 or 12 electrodes used – IT DOESN’T matter if the result is medically accurate.

          Finally-I trust the FDA medical certification process. And I trust my physician’s years of EKG interpretations (probably more years than you have lived as an adult) and her opinions.

          1. That’s very interesting. Videos, you say? Gosh, that’s the ultimate in scientific prowess. And no references to peer reviewed scientific journals. Tsk, tsk. You’re slipping, mijo.

            90% accurate. You mean wrong 1 out of 10.

            Perhaps you can provide objective, independent review of the positive predictive value of Apple Watch compared to a 12-lead EKG and 5-lead Holter monitor. Get crackin’, fanboy. You ain’t even finished yet.

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