British society is split. Those on each side scoff at the delusions and lack of understanding of their peers on the other. Heated arguments can occasionally cross the line and damage relationships. The line that separates is not a clean one, often cleaving through family and friends. No, I’m not talking about Brexit. Or even personal dietary choices. I’m talking about health tracking wearables such as Fitbits and smartwatches like the Apple Watch.
“Why do you need to know exactly how many steps you’ve taken? Surely you know if you’ve walked to work instead of taken the bus you’ve gotten more exercise? You know if you’ve been sitting on the sofa all weekend. You don’t need a blinking wristband that offers you one more place to see your Facebook notifications to tell you that.
What good does it do you to have a report on your sleep pattern when you’ve already woken up? Do you think you can go back and try and sleep better…?”
Something along the lines of the above is the typical cry of the sceptic. Or technophobe as converts see them.
“The visual reminder of my exercise patterns keeps me motivated to hit targets. It helps stop me getting lazy. Yes, maybe it’s purely psychological but what isn’t and it helps!”
“If I see my sleep hasn’t been as good I can think back to what I’ve done the previous day or evening to isolate contributing causes. Being able to do that’s helped me sleep much better”.
Comes the retort from the convert. Or sucker for marketing as sceptics see them.
It’s a debate that has been raging for a few years now without seeming likely to reach an amicable conclusion anytime soon. In fact, the sceptics will have rubbed their hands with glee at recent reports clinics have been becoming overwhelmed by Fitbit and smartwatch hypochondriacs interpreting often inaccurate readings they believe indicate they have a non-existent health condition.
But developments in the latest technology in the world of health trackers and smartwatches might soon make converts of even the sceptics. There are some vital signs most start to occasionally worry about, especially as move deeper into middle-age. Our heart among the most prominent. If health trackers reach the point they can do much of the work of a medical check-up, even if they won’t replace the need for a professionally conducted check-up anytime soon, most of us would probably recognise the value of these devices.
Apple claims its latest smartwatch, the Apple Watch 4, features new “life-saving” heart health monitoring technology that will now be rolled out in the UK for the first time. The technology was incorporated into wearables sold in the U.S. last year. So how does it work?
Sensors in the Watch perform an ECG, electrocardiogram, scan of the wearer’s wrist. The scan monitors the timing and strength of the electric signals produced by heart beats. ECG scans are used by doctors to look for conditions such as atrial fibrillation, a leading cause of strokes. The scans also now carry the CE mark which means they meet EU standards for medical devices.
Martin Cowie, a professor of Cardiology at Imperial College is quoted in The Telegraph newspaper as recognising the new features of the smartwatch as a “powerful tool” to help spot potential health problems early.