Last fall, Apple wowed the tech world when it unveiled the Apple Watch Series 4, a wearable gadget that elevated the smartwatch from a fitness tracker and a communications tool to a full-on health companion. It’s the cornerstone of wearable Apple health technology, but it’s not the only gadget that might help save your life.
Apple’s devices play well with a variety of other health-focused wearables, from a smart bike helmet to a UV sensor that wants to help protect your skin from harmful rays.
These wearables aren’t a substitute for medical guidance from your doctor, but they can be used as valuable tools for monitoring and protecting your health, whether it’s your heart, your head or even your oxygen levels.
The newest Apple Watch is filled with health features
The latest Apple Watch really steps up the wearable gadget’s potential for saving lives. It still lets you monitor and track your heart rate, but two new features elevate it above most other smartwatches: ECG readings and fall detection.
We’re already hearing stories of how the Series 4 watch is coming to the rescue. A man in Norway fell when he was alone in the middle of the night, an accident that left him unconscious. The fall detection feature of his Apple Watch alerted emergency services.
The ECG feature lets you take an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) reading to check whether your heart rhythm is normal, or if it shows signs of atrial fibrillation, a potentially dangerous irregular rhythm. The results of these readings have already spurred some Apple Watch users to consult their doctors as they have discovered previously diagnosed heart conditions.
The Apple Watch Series 4 starts at $399.
Track how much sun you're getting
The CDC says anyone can get skin cancer, but people with naturally light skin and a family or personal history of skin cancer are at a greater risk. It can be hard to gauge just how much sun you’re getting, which is where the La Roche-Posay My Skin Track UV Sensor comes in.
The sensor is sold exclusively through Apple for $59.95. It clips onto your clothing to measure and track your UV exposure. The dainty sensor is compatible with Apple’s Health app on the iPhone. You can get UV alerts that warn you if you’ve been out in the sun too much. There is no battery and it’s waterproof, so you know it will stand up to a day at the beach.
Bike helmet signals to keep you safe
Helmets save lives. The rechargeable $179.95 Lumos smart bicycle helmet offers more than protection for your head, it also has built-in LED turn signals, headlights and brake lights to illuminate your way and alert traffic to your movements.
The Lumos integration with your Apple gear is where things really accelerate. You can track workouts and record your rides with an iPhone app. It’s also compatible with Apple Health. Even cooler, there’s a Lumos app for the Apple Watch that uses gesture recognition to activate the helmet’s turn signals when you make a hand signal. Welcome to the future of bike safety.
Fingertip monitor check pulse rate and more
You may have seen a device very similar to the Masimo MightySat Fingertip Pulse Oximeter when you visited your doctor’s office. The MightSat attaches to your fingertip to measure your oxygen saturation and pulse rate and syncs that data to an app on your iPhone or iPad.
It’s compatible with Apple Health and will help you track your stats over time. That’s useful information you can then share with your doctor if needed.
This $299 pulse oximeter isn’t a wearable you’ll have on all the time, but it can be used to monitor yourself when you change altitudes (if you’re a runner training at different altitudes or a pilot, for example), or if you’re managing a health condition that can impact your oxygen saturation.
Blood pressure monitor you can wear like a watch
Most blood pressure cuffs are fairly bulky, and definitely not something you would want to wear all the time. Omron’s FDA-approved $499 HeartGuide monitor looks like a large smartwatch, but it hides a cuff inside the band that inflates to check your blood pressure whenever it’s convenient. The wearable can also act as an activity and sleep tracker.
HeartGuide works with a companion iOS app to track your blood pressure over time so you can monitor yourself and share your data with your doctor. The only dilemma you might have is whether you want to wear an Apple Watch on one wrist and the HeartGuide on the other.
We’ve come a long way from the early days of step counters and basic fitness trackers. We’re now entering a whole new era for wearable health devices. It’s a good time to embrace the revolution.
Why are Apple products so friggin' expensive?
Apple gadgets, from laptops to watches, come at a premium price. Some Mac Pros can even run up to nearly $4,000. There are a lot of factors that go into Apple's high-end price tags, but people are still willing to pay. We'll look at why Apple can charge a lot and still find plenty of buyers.