check your body composition from your smart watch
It’s so exciting to see smart watches continue to develop new technologies for health nuts like us. Here’s the latest in the fitness-meets-tech world.
When smart watches first launched it was an amazing breakthrough, but the technology was still new. They were a complete luxury, but not necessarily an essential.
Speaking to Samsung Australia’s Head of Products and Services, Mark Hodgson, we’re realising that there are big plans for this type of technology, and the innovations will just keep on rolling.
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“We’re going on a big digital health journey now. I think it’s been boosted by covid, of course. A lot more people are taking telehealth appointments now that didn’t happen previously,” he tells Body+Soul.
“This is a fast growing market and this is where people want to be in their lives – having greater control. I think the Galaxy Watch4 really talks to that and I think it’s very exciting that we’re able to give consumers greater insight into their health and wellbeing and then help them to do something about it as well.”
So – what are some of our favourite features in a nutshell that we can see on the Watch4?
- Heart rate monitoring – an old faithful but really important to check the intensity of your workouts (also a good indicator of when you’ve overdone it on the iced long blacks!). They also have a TGA-approved ECG feature.
- Blood oxygen level – a litmus test for underlying conditions that will check the % of oxygen in your blood.
- Body composition – all-new body composition measurements provide skeletal muscle, basal metabolic rate, body water and body fat metrics in just 15 seconds (#obsessed).
- Sleep tracker – measure how long you sleep, your stages of sleep, your heart rate and blood oxygen levels during sleep to give you a picture of what your rest looks like.
- Snore tracker – an all-new feature that measures how many times you snore and for how long to help you keep track (all partners of snorers – praise be!).
- Google integration – powered by Samsung but built jointly with Google you can access all your faves – Google Maps, Messages and Pay.
- Support for fave third party apps – the new platform also includes support for leading third-party apps, like adidas Running, Calm, Strava, and Spotify available from Google Play.
This is on top of all the existing technology on the wearable including Samsung Pay, guided workouts, exercise tracking etc.
That’s a lot to pack into a tiny device.
The one thing we were wondering when we heard about all of the newer features (body composition, snore tracking, ECG) is how the heck does it do all this from a watch.
Luckily, Hodgson let us in on the nitty gritty.
Okay, we’ll come clean, this is the one that stumped us the most. How is something on your wrist supposed to analyse the composition of your entire body?
Hodgson explains that the new Watch4 has a special three-in-one ‘BioActive’ sensor which has Blood Pressure, ECG and then Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA). It’s the latter that does the body composition.
“You simply put two fingers on the sensor of the watch and it creates a small electrical current which will travel through the water in the body,” he explains.
“Because muscle holds more water than fat, we can detect how easily that electrical current is flowing through. If you have more flow, you’re having effectively greater muscle mass and if there’s greater impedance then there’s more fat there.”
With this tech you can measure skeletal muscle, body fat, body water and basal metabolic rate – and then use these metrics to make better wellness decisions.
“You can capture this information anytime, anywhere, and monitor those changes. Changes don’t necessarily happen super quickly in these areas, but they happen over time. So being able to monitor that over a longer period and easily take those measurements is very powerful for users,” adds Hodgson.
“We’ve got the ability to be able to measure people’s stages of sleep; so when they’re awake, when they’re in the REM stage, light sleep or deep sleep,” Hodgson explains.
“We also have a new snoring picture – so, snoring detection, being able to understand, how many times you snore through the night for how long, et cetera.”
As we all know, sleep has the potential to cause major problems with our physical and mental wellbeing. It’s also a widespread problem – Hodgson cites the Sleep Health Foundation when he says that over 50% of adults suffer from at least one symptom of chronic sleep conditions.
“We wake up in the morning and we think, ‘Oh, I just didn’t sleep well’. But how can we provide users with more insight into why they might not have slept very well? Is it because we’re snoring too much, for example – and then being able to do something about it. It gives us a little bit more insight,” he adds.
The blood pressure measurements on the new Galaxy Watch4 do require calibration with a traditional blood pressure device every 28 days.
This is something you could do while visiting the GP or pharmacy (unless you have a BP cuff at home), so it is more aimed at people who may want to monitor their blood pressure often.
“The watch will take blood pressure measurement and it will essentially look at the difference between the blood pressure that you have at that point in time with the calibrated measurements you taken from the cuff [once a month] and will give you a measurement,” Hodgson says.
“It’s fantastic for people who want to easily take their blood pressure, potentially a number of times a day, because you can take this blood pressure measurement anywhere, anytime. You don’t have to carry that cuff around with you. And then we ask users to recalibrate with the cuff every 28 days.”
But with all these features, how does the battery life go?
With so much functionality, you’d expect a drain on the energy reserves in the watch, so luckily Samsung has packed a ginormous amount of battery power behind this wearable.
You can get around 40 hours from this thing, so you can go close to two days before recharging. Recharging is also super quick 30 minutes provides 10 hours of battery life.
One thing to note is that to access ALL of the features on the watch, you’ll need an Android or Samsung Phone. Androids are required to access the sleep tracking features, while you’ll need a Galaxy device to access ECG and Blood Pressure measurements.
The Galaxy Watch4 is on sale on the 10th September and retails from $399. The classic version (with fan-fave rotating bezel) starts from $549.
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