Never mind blood glucose, the Apple Watch 8 might not even track skin temperature

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We’ve got great hopes for the Apple Watch 8, but now it looks like this year’s watch isn’t likely to pack in a lot of new sensors – if any. If this is true, it will be a major disappointment for those hoping that the next generation Apple Watch will be able to track blood pressure, blood sugar, and perhaps even blood alcohol levels.

In his latest PowerOne subscriber newsletter, Bloomberg resident Apple expert Mark Gurman lays out his predictions for the coming year, sprinkled with a few headlines of insider information — and this for anyone hoping for a major overhaul of the Apple Watch for 2022. is disappointing.

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In fact, Gurman suggests that the new watch may not even be able to track skin temperature, which is what Fitbit, Garmin, Aura, and many other devices have been doing for years.

“Body temperature was on this year’s roadmap, but talking about it has slowed lately,” Gurman writes. “While blood pressure is at least two to three years away, I wouldn’t be surprised if glucose monitoring doesn’t happen until later in the decade.”

sense of things to come

Apple itself has not suggested that any of these features are in the pipeline. Instead, the theory stems from a combination of registered patents, surveys sent to Apple Watch users, and news from companies supplying Apple with components.

For example, last year Rockley Photonics, one of Apple’s suppliers, revealed that it had developed a ‘clinic on the wrist’ that non-invasively measures metrics including body core temperature, blood pressure, hydration, and blood alcohol and glucose. can track with.

Rockley Photonics has developed a sensor stack that can non-invasively monitor a wide range of biometrics, but we’re not expecting to see it in the Apple Watch 8.

The hardware and software look promising, and Rockley has consumer wearables in mind, but the device is still undergoing clinical testing, and the reliance on cloud computing to process the harvested data is a major concern when it comes to privacy. But that could present a challenge for Apple.

It was widely speculated that last year’s Apple Watch 7 would be a major upgrade over its predecessor, but when it arrived the changes were much more minor; The two major changes were a slightly larger screen and a harder lens to protect it. Perhaps we should keep our hopes modest for this year’s watch, too.

A drastic Apple Watch won’t be a game-changer for tough sports when it comes to biometrics, but there may be a more realistic thing to expect.


Analysis: Expectations of the morning

So why might biometrics have been pushed to the back burner? We know that suitably sized skin temperature sensors exist, but Apple may have chosen to avoid them unless it can put that data in a context that is useful to its average user. Skin temperature alone doesn’t matter as much as a number, and it can be influenced by so many factors, the company may have decided it needed to spend more time analyzing and working out how to present it.

The absence of blood pressure and glucose monitoring will come as nothing short of a surprise. While many recent watches (such as the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4) can estimate blood pressure using data collected by their optical heart rate sensor, this is not as straightforward as it sounds, and requires a standard blood pressure cuff to be useful. With regular calibration is required.

These smartwatches are also not medical devices, so they cannot replace traditional blood pressure screenings for people who manage high blood pressure.

Non-invasive blood sugar and alcohol monitoring is even more closed. Biometrics company Abbott makes wearable patches for people with diabetes that track changes in glucose in the interstitial fluid between cells, and syncs this data with a mobile app. This is much more convenient than a finger-prick blood test and allows for continuous monitoring, but the sensor is on a probe that sits just under the skin; Not something that’s practical for a smartwatch that’s desirable.

Abbott also produces a non-medical glucose sensor to help athletes optimize their refueling strategies during events, and at CES 2022 it unveiled plans for a series of stick-on patches that will Will allow people to track factors including ketones, lactate and blood alcohol. However, again these rely on a subdermal probe – and even if they don’t, the data they collect may not have universal appeal to make it into the Apple Watch.

  • We’ve tested and ranked the best fitness trackers

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