This week's sponsor

Affinity

super-fast, powerful, professional apps for modern creative people


Posts tagged with "health"

The Electrodes Used by Apple’s ECG Watch App Enable Faster, More Accurate Heart Rate Measurements

On 9to5Mac, Zac Hall breaks down how the new electrodes work in the Apple Watch Series 4 based on details published by Apple when it updated watchOS last week with the new ECG app. For now, the ECG app is only available in the US, but that doesn’t mean that others can’t benefit from the hardware that it uses. As Hall explains:

According to Apple, putting your finger on the Digital Crown to capture a heart rate reading also measures faster and with more accuracy as it updates every second versus every five seconds while the measurement is active.

That’s because placing your finger on the Digital Crown completes a circuit between your heart and arms that allows the Watch to record electrical impulses across your chest.

It will take time for the ECG app to gain the approval of regulators worldwide. However, in the meantime, it’s nice to know that the hardware that makes the ECG app possible is enhancing heart rate capture for everyone.

Permalink

Electrocardiogram App and Irregular Heart Rhythm Notifications Available Today

At Apple’s September keynote the company introduced the Series 4 Apple Watch. Among the features announced was a preview of the ability to generate an electrocardiogram or ECG within thirty seconds by placing a finger on the Digital Crown. At the time, Apple said the ECG functionality would ship in a software update ‘later this year.’

Today, with the release of watchOS 5.1.2, Apple has shipped the ECG app. As we explained in the MacStories Series 4 overview, the ECG functionality is enabled by new hardware including a new titanium electrode built into the Digital Crown:

This electrode pairs with another electrode built into the bottom of the Series 4's new sapphire crystal back. When you place your finger over the top of the crown you form a closed circuit between your finger and the wrist of your other arm – where the back electrode is making contact.

Apple’s ECG sensor is notable because it’s the first of its kind available over the counter to consumers. ECG results taken with the Apple Watch are stored in the Health app, from which they can be exported as a PDF for sharing with your physician.

According to Apple's press release:

The ECG app’s ability to accurately classify an ECG recording into AFib and sinus rhythm was validated in a clinical trial of around 600 participants. Rhythm classification from a gold standard 12-lead ECG by a cardiologist was compared to the rhythm classification of a simultaneously collected ECG from the ECG app. The study found the ECG app on Apple Watch demonstrated 98.3 percent sensitivity in classifying AFib and 99.6 percent specificity in classifying sinus rhythm in classifiable recordings. In the study, 87.8 percent of recordings could be classified by the ECG app.

watchOS has also been updated to notify users of irregular heart rhythms:

the irregular rhythm notification feature will occasionally check the user’s heart rhythm in the background for signs of an irregular heart rhythm that appears to be AFib and alerts the user with a notification if an irregular rhythm is detected on five rhythm checks over a minimum of 65 minutes.

The irregular heart rhythm notification feature, which is available for the Series 1 Watch and later, was likewise tested in clinical studies:

In that sub-study, of the participants that received an irregular rhythm notification on their Apple Watch while simultaneously wearing an ECG patch, 80 percent showed AFib on the ECG patch and 98 percent showed AFib or other clinically relevant arrhythmias.

The new Apple Watch ECG app and irregular heart rhythm notification feature are available as part of watchOS 5.1.2, which can be downloaded from the Software Update section of the Watch app on your iPhone.


My Skin Track UV: A Tiny Wearable to Track UV Exposure

Spending too long in the sun can damage your skin. By the time you have a painful sunburn, it’s too late; you’ve already overdone it. You can plan your day based on the UV forecast in a weather app, but forecasts are no guarantee of the actual conditions and can’t account for how long you’re exposed to harmful UV-A and UV-B rays.

The awkwardly-named My Skin Track UV sensor by La Roche-Posay is designed to pick up where forecasts leave off by measuring your actual exposure to harmful UV rays throughout the day without needing to be charged. It’s a remarkably small wearable sensor with a companion app that reports other environmental data too.

The My Skin Track UV sensor performed well in my testing, and I felt like it provided useful, actionable data about potentially harmful conditions that would be hard to judge without the device. The lack of charging and diminutive size makes the My Skin Track UV sensor easy to carry with you all day too. The trouble is, the My Skin Track UV is so small and light, and the clip is just slippery enough, that it’s easy to misplace or lose altogether, which I promptly did. Here’s what happened.

Read more


La Roche-Posay Debuts My Skin Track UV, a Solar-Powered UV, Pollution, Pollen, and Humidity Wearable

La Roche-Posay has introduced a new wearable device today called the My Skin Track UV. As the name suggests, the device tracks ultraviolet light (UVA and UVB) exposure, but there’s more to it than that.

The company says its new device also tracks pollution levels, pollen, and humidity. That’s a combination that should provide users with a much broader set of data about their environment as they move throughout the day. The device is tiny and water resistant too at just 12mm wide, 6mm high, 17.4 grams, and with an IP67 water resistance rating (the same as the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and 8 Plus).

Another nice touch is that the My Skin Track UV is solar powered so it doesn’t need to be recharged. Clip it to your clothing or something you carry with you every day and La Roche-Posay says the device will remain powered, collecting data.

La Roche-Posay’s website describes the technology behind the device:

The light emitting diode (LED) is used as a detector to capture UV light. This energy will be read by transferring data from the sensor to your phone using Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology. Based on your UV exposure and environmental factors, the app uses an intelligent algorithm backed by over 25 scientific studies to warn you when your environmental exposure is at a level recognized to contribute to your specific skin concern.

One downside of the device’s use of NFC is that it requires users to manually scan it periodically using the companion app to transfer the collected data to the iPhone. The app, which integrates with Apple’s Health app, also offers skin health recommendations.

The My Skin Track UV is available exclusively at select Apple Stores and apple.com for $59.95. We will have a complete hands-on review of the My Skin Track UV device on MacStories soon.


RECaf Review: Effortless Caffeine Tracking

RECaf is a brand-new caffeine-tracking app by Joe Cieplinski. The app does a remarkable job wringing the friction out of tracking caffeine, making it an excellent example of the benefits of using a narrowly-focused utility to get the best possible user experience.

Tracking anything is hard. It’s easy to forget to do and an interruption of the thing you’re trying to track. As a result, entering data is often sporadic or abandoned entirely. Cieplinski gets this and has built an app that is unusually sticky.

Read more


Streaks 4 Adds iPad Support, Timed Tasks, HealthKit Improvements, and Siri Shortcuts

There are a lot of habit trackers on iOS, but Streaks was one of the first and remains the gold standard against which I measure all other trackers. Even as Crunchy Bagel has added new features and customization options, Streaks’ simple, elegant design has remained at the center of its user experience. That’s important because habit tracking only works if it’s easy to log events. Even the slightest friction makes it too easy to abandon your efforts.

I’ve reviewed Streaks 2 and last summer’s major 3.0 update before, so I won’t cover that ground again here. Instead, I’ll focus on what’s new: an all-new iPad app, timed tasks, improved health tasks, and Siri shortcuts.

Read more


How the Stanford Heart Study App Saved Jason Perlow

Last fall, Apple launched the free Heart Study app in partnership with Stanford University. The study, which was closed to new participants in August and has begun to end for some early participants, was available to US residents over 22 years old with an Apple Watch Series 1 and newer. The app used the Apple Watch to monitor the user’s heart rate for atrial fibrillation, a leading cause of stroke.

Over the course of the Stanford study, stories have surfaced of instances where it discovered dangerous Afib conditions that were undiagnosed before. One such recent story comes from ZDNet writer Jason Perlow. A self-described Apple critic, Perlow purchased a refurbished Series 2 Nike+ Apple Watch earlier this year to test it.

Skeptical about whether the device would be something he would use much, Perlow nonetheless signed up for the Heart Study. Within a few days, Perlow received a notification asking him to contact a doctor at Stanford. The Heart Study app had detected signs of previously-undiagnosed atrial fibrillation. Perlow had the condition treated by a team of heart specialists, but as he concludes:

I owe my life to my Apple Watch. Because it started this whole machine rolling. And I was very lucky to have my Afib caught during the last three months of public enrollment in the Heart Study, which ended in early August.

I participated in the Heart Study too. Like Perlow, I forgot about it for long stretches. I’m fortunate that I didn’t receive the sort of alert Perlow did, but in September, Stanford sent me a notification that my participation in the study was ending. It turns out that over the course of 188 days, Stanford collected 1,743 heart measurements from me. Multiply that by the thousands of people in the study, and the potential the Apple Watch has for medical research is remarkable, while at the same time helping individuals like Perlow one at a time.

Permalink

Nike Training Club Debuts on Apple Watch

Over the last year it's become far too common to hear about a popular app dropping support for the Apple Watch – fortunately, today the opposite is happening: Nike Training Club has added an Apple Watch app for the first time.

Nike Training Club is a workout app containing over 180 different training sessions to choose from. The app offers guided instructions to help you complete your workout, along with activity data to see your exercise track record. It's a really solid, well designed app that gives you the tools needed to hit your workout goals.

The new Apple Watch app for Nike Training Club is merely a companion to the iOS app. You can't start workouts directly from the Watch, so despite the Series 3 model's cellular capabilities, you'll need to have your phone nearby at all times.

Despite its limitations, the Watch app can still be very useful during workouts. During a yoga session, for example, the Watch will show you which pose to take with a countdown for how long to hold it; you'll also see your heart rate and calories burned. Swipe over in the app to see the total length of your workout and an option to pause or end the session.

If you're a heavy Nike Training Club user, the new Watch app provides a much more convenient way to keep track of your workout's progress. I really hope some day the app becomes completely independent of the iPhone, but this is a nice first step.

Nike Training Club is available on the App Store.


Second Life: Rethinking Myself Through Exercise, Mindfulness, and Gratitude

"There's something in your latest scan that we need to double check."

Here's what I've learned about cancer as a survivor: even once you're past it, and despite doctors' reassurances that you should go back to your normal life, it never truly leaves you. It clings to the back of your mind and sits there, quietly. If you're lucky, it doesn't consume you, but it makes you more aware of your existence. The thought of it is like a fresh scar – a constant reminder of what happened. And even a simple sentence spoken with purposeful vagueness such as "We need to double check something" can cause that dreadful background presence to put your life on hold again.

Read more