Samsung has announced that its sleep apnea detection feature has been approved for use by the US Food & Drug Administration - a vital step in the company's quest to solidify the Galaxy Watch a serious health tracker.
The feature was first revealed back in October, with Samsung receiving approval from the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS), and it's now cleared another major hurdle.
Smartwatches from Samsung (and the rest of the industry) have long been able to track SpO2 levels, the metric most often used to spot signs of sleep apnea, but, until now, companies haven't been able to market themselves as actually able to detect the condition.
With this 'De Novo' classification from the FDA, that's now changed. And it means Samsung can now spell out to users that it can detect sleep apnea on the Galaxy Watch. Considering the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) estimates roughly 25% of men and 10% of women in the US suffer from the condition, too, this is no small feat.
It's not clear exactly how the feature works, but the fine print of its announcement blog post would suggest that breathing rate tracking is a major part of the health tool. The watch can detect signs "in the form of significant breathing disruptions", Samsung says.
There are a few caveats to it, as well. This isn't a catch-all sleep apnea detector - and Samsung is still urging users (again, in the fine print) not to use it as a replacement for "traditional methods of diagnosis or treatment by a qualified physician".
Instead, the Korean giant says the feature can only detect signs of sleep apnea in people aged 22 and over who haven't previously been diagnosed with the condition, with the smartwatch grading the user as having 'moderate' or 'severe' obstructive sleep apnea.
The only real requirement for proper detection is that users must track their sleep for more than four hours over two nights - and those nights have to occur within ten days.
Samsung doesn't make clear which Galaxy Watch devices will be able to take advantage of the upcoming feature, but does note that it'll be landing via the Samsung Health Monitor app in the US in Q3 (1 July - 30 September).
For now, we'll have to wait for more in-depth details to emerge regarding the feature, but it's one we're looking forward to getting to grips with later this year.
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