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Apple Watch Carves Out Identity As Health-Focused Device: Heart Study App And EKG Reader Will Save Lives

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The Apple Watch, which allowed Apple to reclaim the title as the top wearable device company in the third quarter, continues to carve out its identity as a health-focused device.

Apple has launched the Heart Study app for the Apple Watch, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared an EKG band as its first ever medical device accessory.

Apple Watch Heart Study App: What Does It Do?

Apple has launched Apple Heart Study, an app that uses the heart rate sensor of the Apple Watch to collect data from its wearer on irregular heart rhythms. The app also notifies users if they appear to be experiencing an atrial fibrillation, which is the leading cause of stroke.

Apple will team up with Stanford Medicine for Apple Heart Study. Once the app detects an abnormal heart rhythm, users will receive a notification on the Apple Watch and their paired iPhone, a consultation free-of-charge, and an electrocardiogram patch for further observation.

"Through the Apple Heart Study, Stanford Medicine faculty will explore how technology like Apple Watch's heart rate sensor can help usher in a new era of proactive health care central to our Precision Health approach," said Lloyd Minor, the Dean of the Stanford School of Medicine, in a statement.

The Apple Heart Study app is now available in the App Store for users in the United States. Participants are required to be at least 22 years old.

KardiaBand Receives FDA Clearance

Adding to the Apple Heart Study as developments for a health-focused Apple Watch is the first medical device accessory that was cleared by the FDA.

AliveCor's KardiaBand electrocardiogram (EKG) reader is a sensor that connects to a slot on the band of the Apple Watch. It functions similarly to Apple Heart Study, as users can check for abnormal heart rhythm and atrial fibrillation by touching the sensor and getting an EKG reading in 30 seconds.

The KardiaBand uses artificial intelligence to analyze the heart rate of the wearer and determine when the levels become abnormal. This would help in quickly detecting anomalies and informing healthcare professionals when there is a life-threatening situation.

The Health-Focused Apple Watch

Health and fitness was one of the major themes of watchOS 4, and developments such as the Heart Study app and the KardiaBand reinforce the Apple Watch as a health-focused device. Life insurer John Hancock has even recently started offering a huge Apple Watch discount to bring the price down to $25 if the wearer is able to maintain a regular exercise regimen for two years.

Apple CEO Tim Cook himself used the features of the Apple Watch to lose 30 pounds, as the device continues to build its identity as a health-focused smartwatch.

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