A study has shown that the Apple Watch oximeter—an instrument for measuring the proportion of oxygenated hemoglobin in the blood—is very reliable for obtaining heart rate and oxygen saturation (SpO2) in patients with lung diseases.
According to the study from the University of São Paulo, one of Brazil’s foremost education institutes, the Apple Watch Series 6 oximeter gave somewhat accurate results. The report, published in Nature magazine, said that “strong positive correlations between the Apple Watch device and commercial oximeters” were observed. It continued, “there was no statistical difference in the evaluation of skin colour, wrist circumference, presence of wrist hair, and enamel nail for SpO2 and heart rate measurements in Apple Watch or commercial oximeter devices.”
The study was conducted on 100 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and interstitial lung disease. The patients were sourced from an outpatient pneumology clinic. The tests were conducted with healthy individuals, people with Interstitial lung disease (ILD), and with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The study was conducted by Leonardo Zumerkorn Pipek, Rafaela Farias Vidigal Nascimento, Milena Marques Pagliarelli Acencio, and Lisete Ribeiro Teixeira. They observed that although the values returned by Apple’s oximeter were slightly higher than conventional oximetry devices, the result was still somewhat accurate, at least under controlled conditions. The authors affirmed that smartwatch technology has continued to make advancements and that more studies should be carried out to ascertain the improvements in accuracy. Smartwatches have truly come a long way since their early releases, with new features added with every new iteration.
Apple Watch was first introduced in April 2015 and has since become one of the most successful wearable devices in circulation today. As of August 2021, Apple retains the largest market share in wearables, with 34.1 percent of the market dominated by the Cupertino-based company.
The Apple Watch Series 6, which was used in this study, was introduced in 2020, possessing the oximeter, which Apple insists is not medically approved. It is not yet known if Apple’s new Series 7 watch coming later this year will possess an improved oximeter.