As wearables eye the next round of health metrics to track, a new blood pressure monitor from Swiss start up Aktiia has landed in Europe.
The dedicated band uses a PPG sensor to measure blood pressure from the wrist – and it doesn’t require validation every two months from a standard cuff.
And what’s more, it’s got ahead of the pack with certification from European health regulators as a Class II medical device.
The Aktiia band itself is a small activity tracker style bracelet. There’s no screen or display, so it doesn’t appear like another piece of tech on the wrist, and you could feasibly wear with a smartwatch on the other wrist without attracting comment.
The underside, however, looks indistinguishable from a normal fitness tracker, with the green LEDs of the PPG sensor. It’s the same tech your Apple Watch uses to track heart rate, but Aktiia’s algorithms are designed to measure the diameter of arteries in the wrist. From there it can take an accurate blood pressure reading, without the use of a cuff.
“With cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death across the world, people need to better understand the impact of their lifestyle choices and physicians need the ability to more deeply understand blood pressure patterns so they can change the way that they diagnose and treat people living with hypertension,” said CEO Mike Kisch.
“After 15 years in development and one million blood pressure readings, Aktiia has cracked the code to bring to market the world's first automated 24-7 blood pressure monitoring system.”
A recent study by Valencell, which has also been working on blood pressure from the wrist, found that only 31% of Americans with hypertension measure their blood pressure just a few times a year. Only 4% measure it multiple times a day, as advised by the Mayo Clinic.
Aktiia’s device will take a reading automatically, so you don’t need to sit down and manually hit a button.
This not only provides more data to show your doctor, but means users will be less stressed about the reading.
The news comes as Samsung’s blood pressure feature also got clearance for use in the UK on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 and Active 2 – as blood pressure increasingly becomes the next target of smartwatch makers and the consumer health space. However, that feature does need regular validation from a cuff.
Aktiia costs £199 (around $250) and is going on sale in the UK now, before rolling out to more territories. There’s also a £8.99 (~$10) per month subscription after the first year. There’s an early-bird pre-order discount of £159 (~$200), and those people will get the subscription free for life.
For those that need to keep an eye on blood pressure, this will be of serious interest. But it’s clear the big names of smartwatches will soon be able to bring blood pressure tracking to all of our wrists.
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