Apple today unveiled the new Apple Watch Series 6 models, and one of the biggest features is the ability to measure oxygen saturation in the blood. This is how it works.
To realize the advanced health monitoring feature, the company has equipped the Apple Watch Series 6 with a new blood oxygen sensor, a first for the Apple Watch. It uses LEDs and photodiodes on the back of the device to measure the oxygen saturation in your blood non-invasively (a revolution, quite).
This new sensor works with Apple’s new software, called Blood Oxygen, which allows you to measure the current oxygen saturation of your blood between 70 percent and 100 percent. Taking these measurements into account can give you a better understanding of your general condition and well-being.
Here’s Apple’s pitch:
Oxygen saturation, or SpO2, represents the percentage of oxygen carried by red blood cells from the lungs to the rest of the body and indicates how well this oxygenated blood is delivered throughout the body.
To compensate for natural variations in the skin and improve accuracy, the oxygen sensor in the blood uses four clusters of green, red and infrared LEDs, along with the four photodiodes on the back of the Apple Watch, to measure light reflected back from blood.
You can take these measurements whenever you want, and it only takes a few seconds to complete the scan of the current oxygen level in your blood.
Apple shared the following animation that showed it in action.
In addition to manual measurements, the Apple Watch Series 6 also takes periodic background measurements of the oxygen saturation in your blood when you are inactive, including sleep. All this data is entered into the Health app, which acts as the central repository for all health data from compatible apps and accessories.
And thanks to the Trends feature in the Health app, you can track trends in blood oxygen levels over time to see how they change.
Apple’s recently published support document explains how to use this feature.
The Cupertino company is collaborating with health researchers on a trio of studies to find out how this feature can be used in future health programs. “This year, Apple will partner with the University of California, Irvine and Anthem to investigate how longitudinal measurements of blood oxygen and other physiological signals can help manage and control asthma,” according to the press release.
Separately, Apple will work closely with investigators at the Ted Rogers Center for Heart Research and the Peter Munk Cardiac Center at the University Health Network, one of the largest health research organizations in North America, to better understand how blood disease measurements and other Apple Watch calculations can help manage heart failure.
Finally, investigators with the Seattle Flu Study at the Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine and the faculty of the University of Washington School of Medicine will seek to learn how signals from apps on the Apple Watch, such as heart rate and blood acidity, can serve such early signs of respiratory conditions as flu and COVID-19.
Please note that oxygen measurements available in the app are not intended for medical use, including self-diagnosis or consultation with a physician. Apple says that they are only designed for “general fitness and wellness purposes”, so that’s it.
The new sensor, along with the Blood Oxygen app, is only available on the new Apple Watch Series 6 models. The Apple Watch Series 6 starts at $ 399 for the single GPS version and $ 499 for the GPS + Cellular edition. The new models can be ordered today from apple.com and in the Apple Store app, with availability from Friday 18. September in the United States, Puerto Rico and 27 other countries and regions.
How do you like this new feature in the Apple Watch Series 6?
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