Apple had big plans for its Apple Watch before it launched last year but had to scrap many of its more forward-thinking features, including an electrocardiogram sensor or ECG). But one company, AliveCor, wants to add the feature retroactively with its own strap.
It’s called Kardia. Like many of AliveCor’s iPhone cases, the strap uses a metal sensor to take a 30-second ECG reading through a dedicated app. You can even set up the Apple Watch app so that it will send information to a physician if things look dire. People can also dictate symptoms or current conditions through the microphone on the Apple Watch.
The one big caveat to these impressive claims is that the strap still needs approval from the likes of the US Food and Drug Administration (510k) in order to be considered a medical device. The AliveCor team seems confident, however, saying they expect the strap to be approved and ready for purchase sometime this spring.
The Kardia would certainly be a boon for people with atrial fibrillation and other diseases with high stroke risk. It also demonstrates an important future of the smartwatch. In an interview this week with Business Insider, the director of Android Wear said that in 50 years smartwatches could “act as your ‘agent’ in the internet-connected world around you, and keep you healthy — even talking to your doctor before you ever realize you’re sick.” Emphasis on could.
AliveCor’s ECG reader could be the beginning of that far-flung future.