Apple Watch's heart rate sensor on par with Mio's dedicated Alpha monitor

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited July 2015
The heart rate sensor in the Apple Watch is nearly on par with Mio's Alpha, a popular dedicated heart rate tracker also worn on the wrist, a new comparison of the two devices has found.




A graph showing a comparison of the devices, shared Wednesday by Mac and iOS developer Brad Larson, comes from raw data extracted from HealthKit after a recent run with both devices. The Alpha produced sharper peaks, which may suggest more filtering on the Watch, but in most cases the data produced was essentially equal.

The two wearables each use optical sensors that measure reflected light to gauge blood flow. Larson noted that the sensor on the Watch takes a reading every 5 seconds while in workout mode, slowing to once every 10 minutes while in regular use.

Apple recently encountered some controversy with the sensor when it confirmed that the Watch may not work properly for people with wrist tattoos, a consequence of using optical technology. The company changed a support page to state that the "ink, pattern, and saturation" of some tattoos can make it "difficult to get reliable readings."

In practice some people have found they were effectively unable to use the Watch without disabling wrist detection, which relies on the heart rate sensor. Turning the feature off also disables Apple Pay, and tattooed people may have to buy a separate tracker to get an accurate heart rate.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 50
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,035member
    Need to compare it to actually medical grade heart monitor, do not compare it another consumer grade device. Also you do not know what the Apple iOS health kit software is doing with the data before it actually records it.

    I would be curious how well it tracks against a medical grade device.
  • Reply 2 of 50
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    maestro64 wrote: »
    Need to compare it to actually medical grade heart monitor, do not compare it another consumer grade device. Also you do not know what the Apple iOS health kit software is doing with the data before it actually records it.

    I would be curious how well it tracks against a medical grade device.

    As the Apple device specifically isn't a medical grade I. e. certified, medical device what would be the point?
  • Reply 3 of 50
    halanshalans Posts: 2member
    What's the point in comparing it to the same tech (implemented in the same way)?
    How about battery life (compared to the same tech)?

    In regards to tatoogate, how does the Mio perform (same tech, same results)?
  • Reply 4 of 50
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,221member
    maestro64 wrote: »
    Need to compare it to actually medical grade heart monitor, do not compare it another consumer grade device. Also you do not know what the Apple iOS health kit software is doing with the data before it actually records it.

    I would be curious how well it tracks against a medical grade device.
    Say what? Contrary to the views expressed in this diatribe, it is a very good thing to know that the Apple Watch gives essentially the same results as a dedicated consumer-grade heart rate monitor. Would it be a good thing to also compare the Apple Watch to a medical grade monitor? Of course it would. However, that is not the point. Knowing that the Watch gives essentially the same results as the dedicated consumer monitor means that the Watch can replace the dedicated consumer monitor.

    If however the patient is using a medical grade monitor, then it is not likely that the medical grade monitor will be replaced. The Government has stated that it will maintain a light regulatory hand on the medical applications of the Apple Watch. However, this does not mean that it is "Katy, bar the door." Neither Apple nor a third-party developer will be permitted to promote or sell an app that rivaled the results of a dedicated monitor without first going through a rigorous certification protocol.
  • Reply 5 of 50
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,454member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by halans View Post



    In regards to tatoogate, how does the Mio perform (same tech, same results)?

    Good point. I'm also curious if the Mio samples at the same intervals as the ?Watch. The OP indicates that the "watch", which I presume is the ?Watch only, measures every 5 seconds during a workout, and every 10 minutes normally. One other complaint is that it takes a while to take the reading on the watch and offer results, it's not "real time", even sending the personal "heartbeat" feature appears to use the last recorded heartbeat, and not what a person is experiencing the moment they send it. I presume the Mio works the same way.

  • Reply 6 of 50
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,961member
    maestro64 wrote: »
    I would be curious how well it tracks against a medical grade device.

    From Mio's write up on Amazon:
    Mio’s patented design is extremely accurate, with a 0.99 correlation to EKG in laboratory testing. An optical sensor monitors the volume of blood under the skin and sophisticated algorithms are applied to the pulse signal so that the heart’s true rhythm can be detected—even at performance speeds.
    If that's true, it's a good news for Apple, I guess.
    By the way, didn't CR review the Apple Watch heart rate sensor and find it was as good as dedicated chest straps?
    (I looked up the Mio info, I can't be expected to look up that too...)
  • Reply 7 of 50
    I'm not worried about comparisons to medical grade devices, but I do want to see how it compares to a dedicated chest strap monitor, especially at near maximal effort (180-220 BPM or so). THAT is what I want to replace, for gym workouts and bike rides. I suspect it won't compare well for that use, but the fact that it can pair with a chest strap is useful.
  • Reply 8 of 50
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 4,044member

    Nothing new here. When Apple made a product with less quality vs competitors? 

  • Reply 9 of 50
    ecatsecats Posts: 272member

    All this talk about medical grade, it's as if readers are expecting the medical grade device to derive a different bpm reading, let's just be clear the medical grade device will not get a different bpm reading (and from time to time that reading can be incomplete, but that's another story with medical professionals understanding that read outs need a statistical consistency to determine disease.)

     

    The primary difference between a "medical grade" device and a "consumer grade" device is that the medical grade takes constant readings via a medically accepted method while the consumer grade takes intermittent readings via a variety of technology options. One is not any better than the other at determining the bpm of a person during exercise. The additional resolution, such as by electrocardiogram, allows the "medical grade" device to determine disease (such as by analysing the sinus rhythm.)

     

    In short: consumer HR devices are generally very accurate and any small variance from environmental factors/interference has no bearing on exercise. I'd say that anyone who suggests otherwise doesn't have a clue what HR readings are used for in the exercise setting.

  • Reply 10 of 50
    konqerrorkonqerror Posts: 685member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ECats View Post

     

    The primary difference between a "medical grade" device and a "consumer grade" device is that the medical grade takes constant readings via a medically accepted method while the consumer grade takes intermittent readings via a variety of technology options. 


     

    A exercise heart rate strap is the same method as a EKG. They sell certified reflective pulse oximeters that work the exact same way as the Apple Watch. They go on your forehead.

     

    The true difference between a "medical grade" and a "consumer grade" is that somebody blew $10 Million on medical studies to prove that it matches an EKG, paid the FDA some more to get their approval, paid some more for device manufacturer certification, bought a huge liability insurance policy against those TV lawyers then paid a 2.3% per unit Obamacare tax.

     

    This is how the $10 Apple Watch sensor becomes a $150 reflective pulse oximeter.

  • Reply 11 of 50
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post





    Say what? Contrary to the views expressed in this diatribe, it is a very good thing to know that the Apple Watch gives essentially the same results as a dedicated consumer-grade heart rate monitor. Would it be a good thing to also compare the Apple Watch to a medical grade monitor? Of course it would. However, that is not the point. Knowing that the Watch gives essentially the same results as the dedicated consumer monitor means that the Watch can replace the dedicated consumer monitor.



    If however the patient is using a medical grade monitor, then it is not likely that the medical grade monitor will be replaced. The Government has stated that it will maintain a light regulatory hand on the medical applications of the Apple Watch. However, this does not mean that it is "Katy, bar the door." Neither Apple nor a third-party developer will be permitted to promote or sell an app that rivaled the results of a dedicated monitor without first going through a rigorous certification protocol.

     

    They could rival it, even be better than it, they just couldn't promote it as medical grade; it is basically a certification, labeling issue and probably also a liability issue. To be medical grade, you need to prove that it is to the FDA; which is costly. It is a quasi certainty that Apple has looked into having their heart monitors certified as medical devices (and they may well be in the future).

  • Reply 12 of 50
    yojimbo007yojimbo007 Posts: 1,161member
    Most amazing is the Applewatch surviving Bikram Yoga on daily basis.
    105 to 115 degrees, 40 to 50% humidity .. And me soaked in not dripping but flooding sweat. ... And then on top showers...I am amazed !
    And ohhh....for those who are curios.... 900 active calories burned in one session. Total of 1100 calories of active and static calories. Heart-rate range from min of 55 to 150 ....
    I am Totally addicted to this watch !
  • Reply 13 of 50
    bobdylanbobdylan Posts: 37member
    yojimbo007 wrote: »
    Most amazing is the Applewatch surviving Bikram Yoga on daily basis.
    105 to 115 degrees, 40 to 50% humidity .. And me soaked in not dripping but flooding sweat. ... And then on top showers...I am amazed !
    And ohhh....for those who are curios.... 900 active calories burned in one session. Total of 1100 calories of active and static calories. Heart-rate range from min of 55 to 150 ....
    I am Totally addicted to this watch !

    Are you using the sports apple watch or the stainless steel one? I wonder if the steel one is as resistant as the sports one.
  • Reply 14 of 50
    michael_cmichael_c Posts: 164member
    halans wrote: »
    What's the point in comparing it to the same tech (implemented in the same way)?
    How about battery life (compared to the same tech)?

    In regards to tatoogate, how does the Mio perform (same tech, same results)?
    I'm not sure how big a deal battery life will turn out to be. I, along with the many who have reported better than expected battery life, have seen reasonable performance. I saw battery reserve hit 10% remaining just after 8 pm tonight - that in itself isn't anything to write home about, however, I switched it to monitor a workout at 11:50 am, and decided to let it stay in this mode until it ran out of juice. Switched to reserve mode when it hit 10% remaining, and it was still running in reserve mode when I put it on charger 4 hours later. Quite frankly, I will run out of energy far quicker than the Apple Watch if I truly was to attempt an 8 hour workout????.

    I have the SS 42 mm watch, so battery life should do better than the 38 mm watch my wife has - her watch has more than 50% left after the 16+ hours since last charge - hers wasn't switched to a workout.

    I haven't tried bluetooth head phones during a workout, but at this point, it doesn't look like battery issues are a real concern - at least, for how I will be using the watch.
  • Reply 15 of 50
    lebartlebart Posts: 4member



    If you take a close look, I don't really have the feeling that it is on par. A difference of 5 to 10 heartbeats is a world of a difference. That said, Consumerreports did a test with 'the best' heart rate strap on the market. The watch was rated very accurate.My bet is that the AppleWatch is better than the Mio. Time will tell ...

  • Reply 16 of 50
    retrogustoretrogusto Posts: 945member
    fallenjt wrote: »
    Nothing new here. When Apple made a product with less quality vs competitors? 
    the point isn't that it's equivalent to a direct competitor--it's being compared to a dedicated device. I have a consumer-grade camera that's better than the camera in my iPhone 6, as well as a compass that's better than the compass in my phone and a flashlight that's better than the flashlight in my phone. Of course, I still end up using the phone more, because it's usually more convenient than carrying around a bunch of dedicated devices.
  • Reply 17 of 50
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,471member
    " and tattooed people may have to buy a separate tracker to get an accurate heart rate." Is this going to keep being mentioned ... seriously? How about the unfortunate people without arms? They should be way ahead of idiots that ink themselves in our concerns, even if also irrelevant to discussions about the ?Watch. How about we start an 'Ear Gate' to complain deaf people can't hear the music on a their iPhones!

    (p.s. Off topic .. But I have hearing problems ... coincidently I just found Boom2 for OS X 10.10 and wow what a difference to hearing Macs! http://www.globaldelight.com/boom/index.php)
  • Reply 18 of 50
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,454member
    yojimbo007 wrote: »
    Most amazing is the Applewatch surviving Bikram Yoga on daily basis.
    105 to 115 degrees, 40 to 50% humidity .. And me soaked in not dripping but flooding sweat. ... And then on top showers...I am amazed !
    And ohhh....for those who are curios.... 900 active calories burned in one session. Total of 1100 calories of active and static calories. Heart-rate range from min of 55 to 150 ....
    I am Totally addicted to this watch !
    Wow. You realize you are exceeding the warranty operating conditions significantly. Apple advised no hotter than 95 degrees, low humidity environments (specifically stating no steam room use).
  • Reply 19 of 50
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,471member
    mac_128 wrote: »
    Wow. You realize you are exceeding the warranty operating conditions significantly. Apple advised no hotter than 95 degrees, low humidity environments (specifically stating no steam room use).

    50% ... That is low humidity! On a nice day here in central west florida we'd consider that a dry day! If the top temperature Apple state is 95°F then you'd better leave for the Arctic in summer too.

    A cool, dry day in Paradise ... 8-)
    1000
  • Reply 20 of 50
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post



    (p.s. Off topic .. But I have hearing problems ... coincidently I just found Boom2 for OS X 10.10 and wow what a difference to hearing Macs! http://www.globaldelight.com/boom/index.php)



    Thanks for pointing out Boom. My father-in-law has big hearing problems and this may be of help. Do you know of anything like this for iOS? I haven't been able to find any in quick searching. It would be more useful there since he's using the iPad Air more now than laptops.

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