While its name might be synonymous with low-cost fitness trackers for many consumers around the world, Fitbit has faced quite the uphill battle trying to gain a foothold in the fast-growing smartwatch market over the last few years.
Get ready for a swift US and European release
The aptly named Fitbit ECG App will be enabled stateside sometime next month, as well as in a host of European countries including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. That’s right, Fitbit pulled a double, obtaining both FDA approval and Conformité Européenne (CE) marking in the European Union.
Why is ECG so important?
In a nutshell, this is what separates the serious health-tracking smartwatches from the casual fashion-centric wearable devices. As explained by Fitbit, the main purpose is to detect atrial fibrillation (AFib), a condition that affects more than 33.5 million people (!!!) globally, increasing the risk of complications like stroke.
A large chunk of those suffering from AFib are unlikely to become aware of their problem until it’s too late to keep it in check, which is where the Apple Watch lineup and now the Fitbit Sense come in, assessing a user’s heart rhythm for early signs of atrial fibrillation so you can receive the necessary medical attention to live a long and normal life.
Obviously, the ECG monitor built into a $330 commercial device also featuring a bunch of other sensors may not prove as reliable as a medical-grade system typically found in a hospital, but Fitbit claims the multi-site clinical trial it conducted as part of the submission process to regulatory agencies yielded a stellar 98.7 percent sensitivity score and a perfect 100 percent specificity rating.