Back in May we revealed that Huawei was building a smartwatch with blood pressure tracking capabilities – and now it seems the company could be close to bringing it to market.
Reports out of ITHome in China (link in Chinese) reveal that the Guangdong Provincial Food and Drug Administration has given approval for Huawei’s ‘ECG blood pressure recorder.’
There are precious few devices that can read blood pressure from the wrist. The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 and Galaxy Watch 4 do have the feature – although Samsung’s system requires validation via a cuff before it can be used. The watch also needs regular re-calibration, too.
But now Huawei is advertising for testers, which means the product could be ready for prime time.
But ITHome reports that Huawei is looking for participants for a study to test the blood pressure features. However, the call out is a little odd. The company is looking for “more than 20” people, who must have a wrist circumference of 200mm or more.
Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro
That certainly doesn’t feel like the kind of user study that will see a cuff-less blood pressure monitor get FDA or CE approval – and it certainly makes us even more sceptical that we’ll see the feature globally any time soon.
Of course, we presume there have been substantial trials to get approval from (regional) regulators in China to begin with.
But it still strikes us odd to see a company appealing for such a small cohort of testers, with such a large wrist size. To put that in context, the average woman has a wrist circumference of 178mm – way slimmer than Huawei’s testing requirements.
In a chat with Fitbit CTO Eric Friedman, he said that blood pressure technology was so hard to validate because of differences in variables, such as wrist size, weight, ethnicity and skin colour.
“You have to get it working at scale across all kinds of physiological body types, different profusion levels, things like that. You also have to make sure it works in kind of non-controlled settings,” Friedman told us.
In short: making the tech work for everyone can be harder than proving it works at all. And that means trialling hundreds of people.
So where does this leave us? Well, regulatory approval of smartwatch blood pressure is a big story – but there are so many caveats here.
We’re sceptical of seeing this anytime soon – but we’d love to see Huawei nail it.
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