A new supply chain rumor alleges that the upcoming Apple Watch Series 6 will come with blood oxygen monitoring capabilities, a potentially game-changing feature.
The rumor was published Friday by Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes.
Apple Watch 6 will feature biosensors that can monitor sleeping conditions, detect blood oxygen and measure pulse rates, heartbeats and atrial fibrillation, and will also incorporate MEMS-based accelerometer and gyroscope, all allowing the new device to continue to lead in measurement precision among wearable devices, the sources said.
According to the report, this feature (also known as SpO2 monitoring) should notify an Apple Watch wearer when their blood oxygen has fallen below 95 to 100 percent saturation. A major drop in one’s blood oxygen saturation could be caused by something as simple as an exercise, but it could as well point to a more serious health condition, such as diabetes.
Importantly, this feature probably won’t reach current Apple Watch models via a firmware update because blood oxygen monitoring requires dedicated sensor hardware. On the other hand, repair experts over at iFixit proposed back in 2015 that the heart rate sensor inside the Apple Watch might in fact feature dedicated hardware for detecting blood oxygen saturation.
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“Apple’s heart rate monitor is actually a plethysmograph—it looks and acts like a pulse oximeter, but Apple isn’t claiming it can measure your blood oxygen level,” noted iFixit.
In 2017, a CNBC report alleged that Apple was secretly developing non-invasive sensors to monitor blood sugar levels. And earlier this year, codes fragments discovered in the watchOS 7 update suggested that the featured might finally launch with the upcoming Series 6 update.