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Fitbit Says Its Afib Detector Will Be Different from Apple’s

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The AchieVer

Fitbit Says Its Afib Detector Will Be Different from Apple’s 

One of the main selling points of the latest-generation Apple Watch is atrial fibrillation detection, a feature that rival Fitbit still lacks, even on its top devices.

One of the main selling points of the latest-generation Apple Watch is atrial fibrillation detection, a feature that rival Fitbit still lacks, even on its top devices.

And while Fitbit’s wearables are yet to get such capabilities, the company started working on major improvements in the health department at least since 2017, and atrial fibrillation detection was one of the priorities.

Many expect Fitbit to roll out this feature as soon as this year, but as far as Fitbit CEO James Park is concerned, there’s no reason to be in a hurry. Because, as he explains in an interview with Wareable, it all comes down not to being first to the market with a specific feature, but to actually get it right.

“For us our strategy it’s not been about getting the latest features out there first, so when you see us launch FDA-regulated features like apnea or AFib, we’ll be taking a different approach,” he said.

“I think for us it's making sure that it’s really clinically relevant. It’s not just about alerting people, but making sure that there’s a good next step. I’m a big fan of these technologies and early detection coming out, but if you read some of the criticisms it’s about the number of false positives, the unnecessary raising of people’s anxieties. And if you look at some of the use cases, you’re being told if you have AFib today this is not for you, or if you’re under 65 don’t really use it.”Afib detection on current Fitbit modelsOne of the main questions that need to be answered right now is whether Fitbit can enable atrial fibrillation detection on the current devices. Park says the system doesn’t necessarily be similar to Apple’s, which requires the user to touch the Digital Crown, which itself features a titanium electrode and allows the creation of a circuit to generate an EKG reading.

In other words, the existing sensors could theoretically allow Afib detection too, and this means that once it’s read, the feature may become available on several Fitbit models.

“I think there’s a lot of data you can get with purely the optical sensors,” Park explained.

For now, the timing when Afib detection becomes available on Fitbit devices depends on a series of factors, including the FDA approval. The target seems to be 2019, but it could very well be pushed to 2020 if the first implementations aren’t as accurate as Fitbit expected.
 
 
 
 

 

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