This feature will help Google in the fight against the Apple Watch

Fitbit has just taken a major step: its connected watches and bracelets will be able to detect abnormal heart rhythms. It will be possible to warn of a risk of atrial fibrillation.

Connected watches and bracelets have very quickly taken the health turn to invite themselves to our handles. Cardiovascular diseases are a particular focus of these accessories, but it sometimes takes time to take advantage of the latest innovations. In recent years, brands have competed to enable the measurement of heart rate, electrocardiogram (ECG) or the calculation of blood oxygen saturation (SpO2). Convenient functions that require some vigilance from the user. For manufacturers, the ambition is to anticipate possible health problems with new solutions.

It is the Google project that has just overcome a major obstacle in the United States. Connected watches and bracelets from the Fitbit brand now have the ability to continuously monitor users’ heart rates. A solution that detects cardiac arrhythmias and thus atrial fibrillation; a failure that increases the risk of stroke. In a blog post, Google confirms that it has received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval and this will help it fight the Apple Watch.

The Apple-branded connected watch dominates the segment with advanced features. Google and Fitbit can now use a new algorithm called photoplethysmography (PPG). Previously, the function could be used manually by the watch owner. So the main change is being able to track in the background, like the Apple Watch. To get validation, Google conducted a study with 455,699 participants with some interesting results. Fitbit devices were able to correctly detect AF 98% of the time.

Only available in the US for now

Google confirms that this feature will be rolling out to Fitbit devices “soon”. However, it will initially be reserved for the USA and will not land in France for a few months. As on the other side of the Atlantic, approval from the ANSM (National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products) is required for certification. However, this confirms Google’s desire to balance in the health and smartwatch space; via own products or Wear OS.

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