Study compares Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 to medical-grade equipment

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Modern smartwatches can handle full-fledged medical devices, claims a new study published in the Sleep Health Diary. The researchers focused on the SpO2 capabilities of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 and compared them to medical-grade equipment when measuring obstructive sleep apnea.

According to the results, the Galaxy Watch 4 meets FDA and ISO standards, and the researchers wrote in the paper that “The GW4 had an overall RMSE (root mean squared error) of 2.3% and a negligible bias of -0.2%. A Bland-Altman density plot showed good agreement between the GW4 and the reference pulse oximeter.

In layman’s terms, the measurements taken with the Galaxy Watch 4 were very close to the reference medical device the researchers were using.

Ninety-seven adults with sleep disorders participated in the study, and seven medical professionals conducted the tests. Another key finding was that wearing the Galaxy Watch 4 tightly above the wrist bone improved the accuracy of SpO2 measurements.

It is worth noting that the entire study was conducted at the Samsung Medical Center, also appointed by the Korean company, and Samsung paid for everything. Six of the seven medical specialists who conducted the study were also affiliated with Samsung. That said, pulse oximetry and the sensors in modern wearables are considered quite accurate, mainly because of the method they use to evaluate the oxygen in the blood. Called reflectance oximetry, it measures arterial oxygen saturation based on the light absorption properties of blood.

Take these results with a healthy grain of salt, but there’s no reason not to use your Galaxy Watch (or any other similar device) to get a reference point for your blood oxygen levels, especially during sleep. Sleep apnea is a common condition, affecting between 9 and 38% of the population, and a correct diagnosis can save you a lot of trouble.

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