Samsung has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use the sleep apnea detection feature in the Samsung Galaxy Watch. How reports The Verge, this feature will appear in the wearable device for residents of the United States after updating the Samsung Health Monitor app in the third quarter.
Last fall, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety of South Korea approved the use of wearable devices to detect breathing interruptions, so the Samsung Health Monitor update will be released in this country first.
Doctors don’t consider smartwatches a reliable tool for detecting sleep apnea and other health conditions, but that hasn’t stopped companies like Apple, Fitbit, Withings and others from trying to implement these capabilities in their wearable devices.
In December, Bloomberg learned that Apple was working on advanced health monitoring (including sleep apnea and hypertension) for the next generation of Apple Watch smartwatches. The FDA has not yet approved Apple’s use of this feature, and the company had to remove the pulse oximeter feature from the device due to a patent dispute with Masimo. Since the apnea detection feature relies on readings from the built-in pulse oximeter, its appearance in the Apple Watch is now in question.
To use the sleep apnea detection feature, users will need to leave their Samsung Galaxy Watch turned on at night and track their sleep twice, each time for at least four hours, over a 10-day period.
Galaxy Watch monitors a user’s blood oxygen levels throughout the night, a decline in which is a common symptom of sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. According to the Mayo Clinic, interrupted breathing during sleep is a key symptom of both central sleep apnea (when the brain does not send signals to the breathing muscles) and obstructive sleep apnea, which involves partial or complete blockage of the upper airway during sleep.