The technology in smartwatches has come a long way since the early days of wearables when rudimentary step and calorie counters were about as advanced as the devices got. Now, a new generation of devices is ushering in heart-, sleep- and blood-monitoring functions that push the accuracy of laboratory equipment to your wrist.
The new generation of functions could kick-start the smartwatch category, which has failed to live up to the technology industry’s high hopes. High-end devices are taking over from basic fitness trackers, which analysts say is an indication that users want devices that can do more than just count our steps. Better health capabilities could give users, particularly those with medical problems, a reason to strap the devices to their wrist.
“If [a wearable is] helping you manage a medical condition, it probably will turn out to be a durable utility,” says Eric Topol, executive vice president at Scripps Research, a nonprofit scientific institute. The time-stamped data wearables gather can be helpful when formulating a treatment, he says, because it’s collected in the real world rather than in a contrived, laboratory environment.