If there was a big winner at this year’s Wareable Tech Awards it was most certainly the Apple Watch Series 4. It came out top dog in three of our categories: Health Tech of the Year, Smartwatch of the Year and the coveted Wareable of the Year prize.
In a year of further wearable technology consolidation, as smartwatches swallowed up many rival fitness trackers, it was a surprisingly strong field. The excellent Fitbit Versa was the success story of the year, reversing the company’s fortunes – and it was between these two devices that the main vote was split.
Bringing health tech to the masses
“This device will save someone’s life” was the key takeaway of our Apple Watch Series 4 review – and this sentiment was behind the smartwatch’s success in 2018. The addition of an FDA certified ECG sensor and the addition of near constant heart rhythm monitoring for the presence of atrial fibrillation was a seismic jump in the wearable tech industry.
And it seems our prophesy didn’t take long to come true. Within days of the ECG feature going live on the Series 4, one man reported a notification that led him to the doctor – to find a condition that untreated could have cost him his life.
And it’s about more than just one gimmicky feature. What these features on the Apple Watch Series 4 represent are proper health tracking features available to the masses. While forward-looking technology predictions will paint a multi-billion dollar future for mHealth, eHealth or whatever medtech buzzword is the zeitgeist of the day, here it is, alive and kicking on this Apple Watch here in 2018.
Apple’s health gain is Fitbit’s loss
One of this year’s big runners up was the Fitbit Versa – coming highly commended in two categories. And while in previous years the budget, wellbeing focused smartwatch could have walked off with a haul of awards, it was the power of the Apple Watch’s health innovation that stopped it in its tracks.
While Fitbit is doing wonderful work in leveraging the SpO2 sensor to monitor sleep apnea and eventually things like AFib, it’s been slow in bringing these features to the mass market.
The reasons are understandable – getting health technology into the consumers’ hands requires Jedi-like bending of medical frameworks that few technology companies are equipped to navigate. And that just shows the enormity of what Apple has achieved. While the FDA certification is not full approval, while it’s not available outside of the US as yet – this is a little like Apple Pay – and now the initial hurdle has been jumped, it will now be easier for all wearable companies to proceed.
It’s not just about heart rate
While the ECG is the main factor behind Apple’s three-way win, it’s not the only area the Series 4 has excelled.
LTE and waterproofing carry over from the Series 3 (and still put it in an elite crop of devices) but it’s the smaller details that set it apart.
Fall detection is another unique new addition to the smartwatch, which shows it has the power to save lives – in a market way outside the traditional early adopter. The Apple Watch now becomes a reasonable proposition for carers, looking for extra peace of mind.
And just like ECG, these features aren’t available in the mass market. And for the first time it shows that the Apple Watch is leading the way technologically, and not just in the sales charts. Apple’s on fire – and a worthy winner for 2018.
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