KardiaBand is the first Apple Watch accessory to get FDA clearance

Heart rate monitoring strap could pave the way for more serious health add-ons
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AliveCor's heart rate monitoring KardiaBand for the Apple Watch has been cleared by the FDA. That's a big deal because it means the smart strap becomes the first medical accessory for the smartwatch to get approval.

The company, which is headed up by ex-Google SVP of engineering Vic Gundotra uses electrocardiogram (EKG) technology, which detects the electrical activity produced by a heartbeat. Unlike the optical-based sensor baked into the Apple Watch, EKG is still considered the most accurate way to record heart rate activity. It's used by the medical industry and found inside heart rate monitor chest straps.

Read this: AliveCor boss Vic Gundotra talks lifesaving heart rate data

The medical grade heart rate monitor is then able to quickly identify abnormal heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation (AFib). It also has the potential to detect issues like palpitations, shortness of breath and irregular heart rate, which could increase the risk of a stroke.

The Food and Drug Administration is the gateway to companies developing health tech with the likes of Apple, Fitbit and Samsung among the companies beginning to explore serious health monitoring. It can be a lengthy approval process getting approved, but this is big news for any company that's looking into developing medical-grade technology for wearables like the Apple Watch.

In other KardiaBand news, the company is introducing a new feature to its Apple Watch app to improve its heart rate monitoring powers. The new SmartRhythm feature taps into AI and when combined with the Watch's heart rate data and activity sensors will evaluate the correlation between heart activity and physical activity. When the two are out of sync, the device will alert users to capture EKG data.

If you want to keep a closer eye on your heart health on your Apple Watch, the KardiaBand is currently up for grabs for with a KardiaGuard membership that unlocks monthly reports of your EKG readings setting you back a year.

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Michael Sawh

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Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of T3.com.

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.


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