The Apple Watch has increasingly become a health device, although official medical approval for the Series 6's blood oxygen measurement is (still) lacking - this continues to be viewed as a wellness feature rather than something that can be depended on to be scientifically accurate. Apple is making further progress with the device's first health function, heart-rate monitoring, and the next goal is to offer continuous monitoring rather than only during training - during rest periods the watch currently takes samples rather than monitoring constantly.
It would also be desirable for the Apple Watch to continuously measure blood pressure in order to get accurate results - and that is exactly what two new patent applications submitted by Apple, 20200367767 and 20200367760, suggest. The first describes the problem that the new approach promises to solve:
Current ambulatory and home blood pressure measurement approaches ... fail to provide continuous measurement of blood pressure. Additionally, when an oscillometric blood pressure measurement cuff is used to monitor a person's blood pressure when sleeping, the intermittent inflation and deflation of the cuff can disturb the person's sleeping pattern, thereby harming the subject to some extent and potentially changing the person's sleeping blood pressure.
Convenient, non-invasive measurement methods are therefore still of great interest. The technology aims to achieve this primarily by measuring the time in which a pulse emitted by the heart reaches the wrist. The watch alone will not be able to do this; further sensors are required for such a measurement.
Conventional blood pressure monitors are not suitable for 24-hour measurements, but at least there are many smart measuring devices to choose from, which log their results in an app and pass them on to Apple Health on request. Withings, for example, sells such a smart device.
We don't know how soon this patent is likely to bear fruit, but all eyes will be on the Apple Watch Series 7 next autumn.
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This article originally appeared on Macwelt. Translation by David Price.