The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first medical accessory for the Apple Watch made by AliveCor. Led by former Googler Vic Gundotra, the KardiaBand electrocardiogram (EKG) can pair with an Apple Watch and an app to detect abnormal heart rhythm and atrial fibrillation.
The accessory snaps itself into a slot on the watch’s band and then provides an EKG reading within 30 seconds. By using AI and data from other sick and healthy patients, the accessory is able to determine the ideal heart rate for you. It does not base it on a generic range since the heart rhythm can vary among people depending on their health and age.
By default, the accessory checks your heartbeat every 5 seconds. It is only when your heartbeat goes out of range, the app prompts you to record your heart’s electrical rhythm using the EKG technology of the KardiaBand. For this, you need to press your thumb over the sensor for 30 seconds and the results will be displayed on the Apple Watch itself. This data can also be sent to your doctor for a quick diagnosis.
While there are plenty of portable EKG readers that work with smartphones, none of them will tell you when to use it. With the Apple Watch and KardiaBand, that is not the case which automatically makes it more useful. That usefulness comes at a price though. The KardiaBand is priced at $199 and users are also required to purchase a $99 yearly subscription to AliveCor’s premium service.