When the popular tech giant announced its fourth generation smartwatch, it turned everyone’s head. The new Apple Watch was not only redesigned from the ground up – receiving a much larger touchscreen and top-notch hardware for smooth speed – but several health safety features were implemented too. In the past, the Apple Watch already doubled as a medical alert help button due to the SOS messaging function, but the company stepped up its game with the addition of fall detection and ECG measuring. This begs the question: is the Apple Watch Series 4 now better than a dedicated medical alert device?
One of the main selling points of the new Apple smartwatch is its ability to detect if the wearer suddenly collapses thanks to the built-in accelerometers and gyroscopes. It works similar to the fall detection pendant provided by medical alert companies but instead the device is worn on your wrist and not around your neck. Apple didn’t go in detail on how sensitive its smartwatch is, but customers were assured that the technology is implemented in a way that everyday use won’t trigger an alarm. And even if a false alarm does occur, users are able to cancel it by tapping on the screen.
Customization also sets the watch apart from a traditional fall detection pendant. While personal emergency response systems are based around the idea of a third-party operator calling a set list of people, Series 4 smartwatch owners have the freedom to change the priorities of who’ll be contacted. Of course, 911 is the default option, but this can be changed to call a friend or family once the alarm is triggered.
The built-in electrocardiogram is the other trick up Apple’s sleeve. Even though it wasn’t available for the U.S. audience at launch and was planned to be added later on, the ECG measures your heart rate. The corresponding app then saves the data for evaluation and offers the ability to share it with your physician. This feature is very convenient for patients with heart problems and seniors who need to measure their ECG multiple times a day since the smartwatch on their wrist is capable of doing the measurement literally everywhere. However, the accuracy of the result is highly questionable and it’s possible that health practicians won’t accept the data unless it comes from a verified healthcare product.
What makes the new Apple Watch a worthy addition to your medical alert arsenal is the promise of expandability as the device features hardware that serves as a springboard for upcoming health apps. The Series 4 smartwatch already comes with an app aiming to help stressed people relax and reduce their blood pressure by displaying meditative animations. Plus, the App Store is chock full of downloadable apps aimed at helping people diet or exercise more. For example, the sensors of the fall detection tech can be repurposed to accurately track your push-ups or aerobic moves.
Fewer Is Sometimes Better
Even though it’s commendable that Apple has put medical alert and health safety features into its popular product, we are still hesitant to call it a worthwhile alternative to medical alert systems. Heavily sedated patients recovering from a serious illness and especially seniors would find it difficult and frustrating to fish out the SOS app from a pool of superfluous software.
During a medical emergency time is of the essence and fiddling with the small touchscreen could mean the difference between life and death. Certain medical alert providers – such as Medical Guardian – offer their own smartwatch that includes must-have features like a help button – both physically and in app form – GPS, weather forecast, and a medication reminder.
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