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December 1, 2017

KardiaBand helps the Apple Watch inch closer to becoming a medical device

by John_A

Health professionals and tech companies alike have been quick to remind folks that while those fitness bracelets and smartwatches can help improve your health, they are no substitute for real medical devices. But now, the line between wearable and the real thing is beginning to blur, as the Food and Drug Administration approved the first medical device accessory for the Apple Watch. Called the KardiaBand, this accessory comes from the team at AliveCor, and makes use of the Apple Watch’s heart-rate technology and a sensor to provide accurate EKG readings in just 30 seconds. This, medical professionals say, could help detect abnormalities in heart rhythm and atrial fibrillation, and subsequently, send this information to a doctor.

Available for $199, the KardiaBand is just a band that can be used in place of your current Apple Watch wristband. Located immediately below the Apple Watch is a silver sensor, where you can place your finger for a reading. The Apple Watch will then show results using a familiar line graph (it’s much like the one that Apple Watch already uses to show your heart rate data) and inform users if their heart rate is anything out of the ordinary.

The key to the KardiaBand is AliveCor’s SmartRhythm technology, a new feature within the Apple Watch’s Kardia app. SmartRhythm employs artificial intelligence alongside Apple Watch heart rate and activity sensors to “continuously evaluate the correlation between heart activity and physical activity,” the company noted in a release.

“KardiaBand paired with SmartRhythm technology will be life-changing for people who are serious about heart health,” AliceCor CEO Vic Gundotra said in a statement. “These capabilities will allow people to easily and discreetly check their heart rhythms when they may be abnormal, capturing essential information to help doctors identify the issue and inform a clear path of care to help manage AFib, a leading cause of stroke, and other serious conditions.”

While the hardware is $199, you have to pay an additional $99 a year to subscribe to AliveCor’s Premium service, which powers the whole setup. This fee includes SmartRhythm notifications on Apple Watch, unlimited EKG recordings, automatic detection of Atrial Fibrillation or normal sinus rhythm, the unlimited ability to send EKG readings to anyone via email, unlimited cloud history and reporting of all EKGs ever taken, weight and medication tracking, and a mailed monthly paper report on readings taken each calendar month.

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