Science

Apple Watch could add fingerprint biometrics either in the side knob or underneath the display 


Apple could add Touch ID to its Apple Watch, eliminating the need to type in a passcode.

A new report suggests the tech giant could add fingerprint biometrics to either the digital crown or under the screen.

Consumers may see the new technology in the Apple Watch Series 7, which is also said to have an improved battery, broader support for LTE and WiFi 6.

Apple could also completely remodel the next-gen device with a ‘fresh design’, built-in apps and improved Siri capabilities.

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Apple could add Touch ID to its Apple Watch (stock), eliminating the need to type in a passcode. A new report suggests the tech giant could add fingerprint biometrics to either the digital crown or under the screen

Apple could add Touch ID to its Apple Watch (stock), eliminating the need to type in a passcode. A new report suggests the tech giant could add fingerprint biometrics to either the digital crown or under the screen 

The report was published by The Verifier, which claims to have received information about the next Apple Watch.

‘One of Apple’s intriguing operating systems, the watchOS is expected to receive a significant update in the first few years, The Verified shares.

‘The update is expected to add a fresh design to the system and the built-in apps are also expected to receive updates we haven’t seen in recent years.’

Other than a longer battery life and improved Siri, the report also mentions new software that could monitor blood oxygen and sleep patterns.

Consumers may see the new technology in the Apple Watch Series 7, which is also said to have an improved battery, broader support for LTE and WiFi 6. Apple could also completely remodel the next-gen device with a ‘fresh design’, built-in apps and improved Siri capabilities (stock)

Consumers may see the new technology in the Apple Watch Series 7, which is also said to have an improved battery, broader support for LTE and WiFi 6. Apple could also completely remodel the next-gen device with a ‘fresh design’, built-in apps and improved Siri capabilities (stock)

However, the news about the watch measuring the wearer’s blood oxygen first surfaced earlier this month. 

The new features will send blood oxygen readings to existing versions of its Apple Watch, as well as the new model, expected to be revealed in September.

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When Apple Watch detects low blood oxygen saturation below a certain threshold, a notification will be sent to the wearer much like the current heart rate notification capability, according to 9to5Mac

The feature will be enabled by a built-in ‘pulse oximeter’ – a small device that estimate the amount of oxygen carried by red blood cells.

The blood oxygen software was allegedly revealed via a leak of the code from Apple’s upcoming iOS 14 for its next generation of smartphones, which would carry the accompanying app.

Other than a longer battery life and improved Siri, the report also mentions new software that could monitor blood oxygen and sleep patterns. Similar to the current heart rate notifications offered by Apple Watch and associated apps, the new blood oxygen reading feature would send alerts to users' smartphones if their blood oxygen levels get too low

Other than a longer battery life and improved Siri, the report also mentions new software that could monitor blood oxygen and sleep patterns. Similar to the current heart rate notifications offered by Apple Watch and associated apps, the new blood oxygen reading feature would send alerts to users’ smartphones if their blood oxygen levels get too low

The feature could be a major selling point on Apple’s upcoming smartwatch, as many existing blood oxygen reading devices are bulky.

It’s not confirmed what hardware and software will be required for such a feature or how the technology would work.

But it’s likely the feature would come with watchOS 7 – the upcoming operating system for Apple Watch – or even work with watchOS 6, the current version.

Apple Watch hardware already includes a built-in heart rate monitor that is capable of measuring oxygen levels, the report says.

A so-called pulse oximeter has been in place in the back of the device since the original Apple Watch released in 2015 – suggesting it’s been a case of getting the software right to get the feature running.

WHAT IS A PULSE OXIMETER? 

Pulse oximeters are physical devices that estimate the amount of oxygen carried by red blood cells.

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It does this by sending infrared rays of light into capillaries in a person’s finger, or another part of the body with fairly thin skin.

Blood oxygen measurements are called oxyegn saturation levels – abbreviated as SaO2. 

This is given as a percentage of how much oxygen your blood is carrying compared with total capacity. 

Normally, more than 89 per cent of blood should be carrying oxygen.

 Pulse oximeters are useful for people who have conditions that affect oxygen saturation.

For example, people with lung disease can have a blood oxygen level lower than normal.  

Source: American Thoracic Society

Pulse oximeters are non-invasive devices that use wavelengths of light to approximate oxygen carried by your red blood cells.

Blood levels between 95 per cent and 100 per cent are considered healthy, while anywhere below 80 per cent may compromise organ functions.

When blood oxygen levels are low, symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, headache and rapid heartbeat.

The new update could help people with hypoxemia – low levels of oxygen in the blood – or for people at higher altitudes, such as those on mountain climbs, when oxygen saturation of the blood decreases.

Apple is also reportedly working on an upgrade to its electrocardiogram (ECG) function, which was introduced with the Apple Watch 4, unveiled in 2018.

The ECG feature records the timing and strength of the electrical signals that make the heartbeat.

It captures heart rhythms when users experience symptoms like a rapid or skipped heartbeat, helping to provide critical data to physicians in an emergency.

However, the feature results in inconclusive readings for heart rates under 50 beats per minute or over 100 beats per minute, Apple says.

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An update would remove that limitation and will come with an upgraded version of the accompanying ECG app. 

Apple is one of nine companies that are part of a government-backed programme to develop heath products and get them to market faster.

The company claims its products ‘transform the way doctors and nurses work with their patients’.

‘I believe, if you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, “What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind?’ it will be about health,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told CNBC last year.  

APPLE SMARTWATCH HEALTH FEATURES 

Heart rate notifications: Apple Watch checks for unusually high or low heart rates in the background, which could be signs of a serious underlying condition.

 If a patient’s heart rate is above 120 bpm or below 40 bpm while they appear to have been inactive for 10 minutes, the user will receive a notification.

Irregular rhythm notifications: This checks for signs of irregular rhythms that may be suggestive of atrial fibrillation (AF).

AF is an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) characterised by rapid and irregular beating of the chambers of the heart. 

Irregular rhythm notifications use the optical heart sensor to detect the pulse wave at the wrist. 

ECG app: Patients who experience symptoms such as rapid or skipped heartbeat, or receive the irregular rhythm notification, can capture an electrocardiogram (ECG) and record their symptoms.

An ECG is a simple test that can be used to check your heart’s rhythm and electrical activity. 



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