Apple watch

Apple Watch 8 probably won’t take your blood pressure, but Huawei’s new watch can

The Apple Watch 8 is slated to arrive on September 7, and it should have an assortment of new health technologies if Apple’s new wearable operating system, watchOS 9, is anything to go by. We expect it to make full use of watchOS 9’s advanced sleep tracking technology and new exercise metrics such as heart rate zones and running power, which is a more accurate way to determine sleep. energy expended during your runs.

However, one thing that is unlikely to have is blood pressure monitoring. Smartwatches have struggled with this problem for ages: existing sensor networks can detect blood oxygen levels, skin temperature, heart rate, etc., but for a long time blood pressure was the field of specialized inflatable armbands, traditionally slipped on the upper arm. .

Infrared sensors that are supposed to detect blood pressure are starting to make their way to smartwatches, but they’re not considered accurate enough to be used for medical purposes. Samsung, for example, requires regular calibration with an appropriate blood pressure monitor and does not have approval from health boards such as the US Food and Drug Administration.

A man running with an Apple Watch

(Image credit: Apple)

At IFA 2022 this year, Huawei introduced the Huawei Band D to TechRadar’s US editor, which came with new blood pressure technology. Inside the watch is a small pump that inflates a dual-layer airbag contained within the watch strap to 49 kilopascals (kPa) of pressure. This tightens around the wrist, delivering a blood pressure reading in the same way as a traditional blood pressure cuff, which then displays on the attractive watch face.

This focus on the real hardware beyond just another laser sensor is a refreshingly old-school approach. To me, it harkens back to the days when you had to strap an articulated reading lamp-style torch to your Game Boy so you could see it better at night, and there’s something reassuring about such a physical gadget being attached to a smart device. Sure, we’ll probably have an accurate infrared sensor to do the job in a few years, but for now, why not have a secret inflatable blood pressure cuff hidden in the watch strap?

Apple is working on its own blood pressure technology, but reports from outlets such as Bloomberg (opens in a new tab) indicate that we are unlikely to see the technology before 2024 at the earliest. Apple tends to prefer to let its competitors innovate before tweaking and presenting versions that reflect Apple’s minimalist and user-friendly design philosophy. We don’t think air bags in an Apple Watch band are coming anytime soon.

However, there will likely be some worthy items in the form of an Apple Watch Pro or Apple Watch Rugged Edition. A new premium watch designed to withstand rugged adventures is rumored to be coming with the Apple Watch 8.