Could we start wearing our heart on our sleeve, for real?
The new Apple Watch 4, which comes with ECG monitoring built in marks a dramatic step forward for ECG technology.
In the second of our three part article series, Alan Goode, CEO and Chief Analyst of biometric research and consulting company Goode Intelligence, talks to us about why he believes the next generation of fitness wearables could be powered by ECG biometrics.
"Fitness trackers are an ever popular consumer device.
"Popular brands such as Fitbit, Garmin and Apple capture an increasing amount of biometric data using sensors integrated into the watch or wristband and link this data to a variety of healthcare, fitness and lifestyle applications."
Our Wearable Future
Apple sold almost 18 million Apple Watch devices in 2017 and there are forecasts that that by 2022 89.1 million smartwatches and 45.9 million wristbands will be sold.
The Latest Generation - Until Now
"Until now, devices such as Fitbit’s Charge 3 Tracker and the Garmin Vivoactive HR have measured the wearer’s heartrate using optical sensors that use green flashing LED lights.
"These take measurements via a method called photoplethysmography (PPG)."
(Image cred: Raymond Wong/Mashable)
The Limits of PPG
"These sensors are good but can sometimes experience problems when trying to get a signal back through the skin and certain skin tones can prove problematic.
"They are also limited in the data they are collecting from the heart which could limit their utility for more serious health-related applications. They are also missing out on supporting other valuable applications such as identity verification and authentication – an area of biometrics that has proved extremely popular since Apple first introduced Touch ID in 2013.
"The next generation of fitness trackers can build on the success of optical PGP sensors by turning to ECG sensor technology that can gather accurate heart data and support a wider range of applications and use cases."
ECG Sensors - the Next Generation
This is a powerful proposition for fitness tracker and smart watch OEMs and can provide a platform to link fitness, wellbeing, health and identity applications together.
Using ECG Biometrics for Wellness and Authentication
Alan's observations are well-founded, and very pertinent with the Apple Watch 4 launch. We're already there, using ECG biometrics in a variety of interesting applications with one important differentiator - we're bringing wellness and authentication together in a variety of ways, including a wristworn wearable.
Embedding our secure ECG algorithms into a smartwatch offers deep health and wellness monitoring insights, including:
- Stress levels
We can also optimise to provide on-device authentication, allowing the user to unlock a door, access apps and devices and protect their data, all made possible using their unique heartbeat.
Next Generation Fitness Tracking
With the health and wellness industry now worth over $3.72 trillion globally, it's clear there's an exponential demand among consumers for ever deeper, better and more convenient health insights at the touch of a fingertip.
We see ECG biometrics leading that charge with the potential to turn our devices, our cars and even our clothing into sophisticated health monitoring tools.