Fitbit CEO still skeptical about Apple Watch AFib detection, says Fitbit will be different


Fitbit has just announced a range of new wearable equipment for 2019, but some of the deeper health features that it's been promising for a long time have still not landed. In 2017, Fitbit announced that he was working on the follow-up of sleep apnea and the same year it was reported that the company was working on the detection of atrial fibrillation.

CEO James Park has since confirmed that the company is working on the latter, but no feature has been put into production on any of the Fitbit devices, despite all of its latest portable devices with a SpO2 sensor (essentially dormant) , which can be used to diagnose apnea and AFib. It also means that Fitbit is now behind Apple, which has included an AFib detector in the latest Apple Watch Series 4.

Hands on: Fitbit Versa Lite Edition Review

When I recently asked James Park if these features would be available this year, he replied that it was still "to be determined". It all depends on FDA approval, which is one of the reasons the company has not yet announced a vague schedule, but Park also said that Fitbit's AFib detection would work differently than Apple's.

"I think for us it's important to make sure it's really clinically relevant, not just to alert people, but to make sure that There is a good step ahead, "Park told Wareable. "I'm a big fan of these technologies and early detection coming out, but if you read some of the reviews, it's about the number of false positives, the unnecessary increase in people's worries." And if you look at In some cases, you are told that if you have AFib today, it's not for you, or if you're under 65, do not really use it. "

"For us, our strategy was not to get the latest features, but when you see us launch FDA-regulated features such as apnea or AFib, we will take a different approach."

Studies have shown that the risk of atrial fibrillation increases with age. A 2001 study of 1.89 million Americans found that 0.1% of the under 55 million Africans had IBD, which was 9.1% for the over-85s.

Apple's AFib detection is not perfect, concluded Dr. Daniel Yazdi, a Harvard physician, taking into account the sensitivity (the probability of having AFib if you say so) and the specificity (the probability & # 39) ; t), that Apple has made public – the application will misdiagnosis atrial fibrillation in 79.4% of cases in the under 55 years.

But according to James Park, it's not just a question of accuracy, but to ensure that users are guided correctly. "I think that is the accuracy of the algorithms and second, it is an education thing," he said. "We work on both angles: can we reduce the number of false positives, and can we improve sensitivity and specificity for a wider range of age groups?"

To read further: All our reviews Fitbit to compare

Park would not say whether apnea and Afib detection systems can be detected on both current hardware (the suggestion was that this may be the case). The Apple Watch Series 4 is equipped with a titanium electrode in the digital crown on which the user must place a finger to create a circuit from the fingertip of the user and to cross the heart.

This allows you to take an ECG reading on the spot, but the watch can also detect irregular rhythms in the background using only optical sensors. Park suggested that this could be possible with Fitbit's existing technology. "I think there's a lot of data you can only get with optical sensors," he said.

Park has also spoken to the entire smart watch industry and the reasons why Fitbit focuses on accessibility and simplicity in its new devices, Versa Lite Edition and Inspire HR.

"For smartwatches in general, people still need simplicity," Park said. "I'm not sure that many of the competing offers have hit." Apple is definitely looking at health and fitness, but if you look at many Wear devices, you still do not know why I would like a Wear device. is always a little ambiguous, for us it's about health and fitness. "

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