The Apple Watch has been a major innovation in personal medical technology. Not only has it made tracking medical conditions easier, but it’s even saved a bunch of lives over the years. But Apple isn’t stopping there.
Recent reports have revealed that Apple is hoping to add some additional features to an upcoming watchOS update that will allow the device to track oxygen levels in a user’s blood.
What Would an Apple Watch Blood Oxygen Monitor Do?
The upcoming software update for the Apple Watch (watchOS 7) seems to contain code about blood oxygen levels. But what is blood oxygen?
For those not as immersed in human physiology, it’s important to understand that blood is a necessary conveyor of oxygen to the entirety of the body. This is typically measured by checking oxygen saturation levels or through a pulse oximeter.
Normal arterial oxygen is typically measured at approximately 75 to 100 millimeters of mercury. However, if blood oxygen drops below 80% saturation levels, or 60mm, it is quite likely that the user has hypoxemia, and might be suffering from severely reduced heart and brain capacity. If left untreated, this can lead to cardiac or respiratory arrest.
A blood oxygen monitor would also be extremely useful for athletes, who often suffer from lack of oxygen in blood after strenuous workouts.
At this time, Apple Watches do not have the components required to read blood oxygen levels, which means that users might have to purchase a Series 6 Apple Watch later this year to get that functionality.
Analysts have said that the heart measurement tools built into the first Apple Watch could theoretically track the blood oxygen levels, but nothing in the software seems to support the feature at this time.
We’ve covered a number of other new features that the upcoming Apple Watch Series 6 and/or watchOS 7 could include, like parental controls, sleep tracking, and watch face sharing.