Samsung has promised an ECG (electrocardiogram) feature for the Galaxy Watch Active 2 ever since it was launched in August 2019, and it looks like we finally have some movement on that front – albeit only in Samsung’s home market of South Korea.
Samsung says the South Korea Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has given its blessing to the Watch Active 2 for both blood pressure measurements and ECG monitoring. With that approval, Samsung can enable some more of the wearable’s sensors.
The functionality will be added via a Health Monitor app sometime in the third quarter of the year, then will “progressively expand” to future smartwatches, according to Samsung. There’s no mention of wider availability beyond South Korea – just a note that “availability may vary by market”.
It’s a shame that users have had to wait so long for this functionality – and even longer, outside South Korea – because it was one of the key selling points of the Galaxy Watch Active 2. An update was originally promised for the first half of 2020.
Simply put, an ECG monitor looks for signs of heart irregularity, checking the electrical pulses sent from someone’s heartbeat. It’s amazing that this tech can now be packed inside a smartwatch, but it does need regulatory approval.
That’s because an ECG is quite a serious medical device. One of the conditions it can spot is atrial fibrillation, which occurs when the electrical signals inside the heart aren’t quite operating as they should.
We’re seeing the feature arriving in a number of wearables now – including the latest smartwatches from Withings and Apple – but adding the technology and the relevant sensors is more involved than it is with something like a heart rate monitor.
For anyone outside South Korea with a Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2, the wait goes on, and there’s no update yet on when the wait will be over. Let’s hope this first agency approval is a sign of what’s to come.