Garmin is rumored to be working on its own version of the electrocardiogram sensor, a device that could help improve heart health metrics by identifying irregular heart rate rhythms.
ECG sensors do not measure blood flow; Instead, they detect signs of atrial fibrillation, or AFib, which is a cause of strokes and heart problems, and can alert you if it picks up on indicators of the condition.
None of the smartwatches with ECG sensors are “medical grade” or approved for use in a clinical setting — not even The best Apple Watch or the Better fitbit – But EKG readings can provide a useful indication that you should get yourself checked out by a medical professional. Considering how far Garmin has come in the smartwatch space, it’s interesting that it took the company so long to get here, and that it didn’t make the feature a priority like its competitors.
to me The5KRunner (Opens in a new tab)which has a proven track record of predicting future Garmin features, a reliable source indicated that the feature is coming with new series of Forerunner watches, the 265 and 965. Our colleagues at Spotted It Adventure (Opens in a new tab)The leak reveals that you will be able to place two fingers on the metal frame in front of the watch, and it will create a circuit with the metal sensor sitting on your wrist. The Apple Watch uses the Digital Crown to achieve the same result.
ECG is available on the Fitbit Sense 2 and Fitbit Charge 5, and has been available on the Apple Watch since Series 4. So why has Garmin taken so long to bring the feature to its watches?
Garmin’s website tells us that newer watches can identify “abnormal” heart rate elevations after exercise. He says “If you have been inactive for 10 minutes or more, and your heart rate remains above the threshold you set, you will receive an alert on the watch. This setting is found under the heart rate settings usually accessed from the heart rate widget on the watch” . However, this differs from a true ECG app, which can scan for heart rate irregularities on demand, not just immediately after a workout.
A piece of squared text on the same page also stresses that “Garmin watches are not medical devices. Heart rate monitoring data is not intended to be used for medical purposes, nor is it intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.” However, ECG apps aren’t authorized for use in clinical settings either, and are only supposed to provide an indication that something might be awry.
The simplest answer is that Garmin never needed ECG hardware to sell itself, and only cares about heart rate sensor accuracy during workouts and sleep tracking. Garmin watch wearers, who often look for specialized hardware, will likely be less concerned with the presence of an ECG sensor than ‘lifestyle’ watch enthusiasts wearing a Sense 2 or Apple Watch, both of which are do-it-all health devices.
Still, expect Garmin to announce its ECG debut with a bit of celebration when (if?) its first ECG-capable watch arrives later this year.