Future Apple Watch could measure blood pressure without extra peripherals

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 2020
Plans for a new sensor could mean that the regular Apple Watch will be able to accurately measure blood pressure without the need for extras such as a blood pressure cuff.

Participants were required to wear Apple Watch for at least five hours per day over an extended period
Future Apple Watches may be able to measure blood pressure as well as heart rate


One of the very first health-related features of the Apple Watch was its ability to measure heart rates in beats per minute. However, it's not been able to accurately measure blood pressure because that requires more sensitive sensors, and also for those sensors to be placed accurately over a vein.

While you can get blood pressure apps for the Apple Watch, they require an extra device, such as a blood pressure cuff, which wraps around the whole wrist. "Pressure measurement designs," US Patent No 10,646,121 describes a way of doing without that cuff and still achieving accuracy in both positioning and data.

This is significant both because it increases the number of people who will be able to check their blood pressure -- they only need their Apple Watch, they don't have to buy anything else -- but also because of the range of medical benefits that come from regularly recording this data.

"Measuring pressure may be useful in monitoring one or more user parameters," says the patent. "For example, blood pressure measurements may be a helpful user parameter to measure as elevated blood pressure (a.k.a. hypertension) may be an indicator for potential health issues."

"Additionally, pressure measurements may also be indicative of a user's heart rate," it continues. "Further, in some instances, pressure measurements may provide blood pressure waveform morphologies which may be a useful user parameter to monitor."

What Apple proposes is that rather than having sensors arranged through a cuff or other wrist-wrapping extra device, the Watch itself gains a spread of sensors. A combination of hardware and software leverages this array of sensors to calculate accurate readings.

"A sensor array may increase the chance of proper placement of at least one pressure sensing node relative to the target artery," it explains. This increases the "pressure-sensing resolution" to help provide a range of data measurements.

"These devices may help reduce issues with signal processing as one or more preferred pressure sensing nodes of the sensor array may be identified and pressure signals received therefrom may require less error correction or processing," continues the patent. "Such devices may provide a more convenient and accurate blood pressure monitoring device."

The patent does not use the words "Apple Watch," and instead repeatedly describes " a wrist-worn device," so it could be that Apple intends a separate product. But it's unlikely as the patent stresses the point is to "increase the adoption of non-clinical measurements and monitoring of blood pressure by common consumers."

Detail from patent showing one potential sensor array
Detail from patent showing one potential sensor array


The invention is credited to Ravi K. Narasimhan, Zijing Zeng, and Zhipeng Zhang. Among Zeng's prior patents is a related one for a "wrist worn accelerometer for pulse transit time (PTT) measurements of blood pressure." Zhang's previous inventor credits include a patent in the same field.

Currently-shipping Apple Watches were recently part of an research project into blood pressure and body mass index conducted by the Framingham Heart Study.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    kkqd1337kkqd1337 Posts: 446member
    Wow I never seen such a Blood pressure monitor. That would be interesting.

    Personally I think they need to fork the Apple Watch now if they are going down this path.

    One full featured with all this stuff retaining current design roughly. 

    Another with just a basic HR monitor but in a slimmer case. I like my watch, but I just want the basics and would love it to be more slim line. 
  • Reply 2 of 12
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,787member
    I'd buy this model in a heartbeat... 

    BTW off topic what just happened to the AI web site?  Did I just cross over in to a parallel dimension?
    edited May 2020 flyingdpjony0
  • Reply 3 of 12
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 1,320member
    kkqd1337 said:
    Wow I never seen such a Blood pressure monitor. That would be interesting.

    Personally I think they need to fork the Apple Watch now if they are going down this path.

    One full featured with all this stuff retaining current design roughly. 

    Another with just a basic HR monitor but in a slimmer case. I like my watch, but I just want the basics and would love it to be more slim line. 

    I don’t think this is the Apple way, because of Apple’s scale of manufacturing, they will debut the feature in all case styles and lower the cost of an older model.

    But yes, a slimmer style would be cool.

    And yes, if Apple gives me sleep monitoring, pulse oximetry or BP it would be a deal changer for everyone.

  • Reply 4 of 12
    I guess it's too much to hope that something like this will be in the next iteration of Apple Watch.  That would almost certainly get me to upgrade. 
  • Reply 5 of 12
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,551member
    MacPro said:
    BTW off topic what just happened to the AI web site?  Did I just cross over in to a parallel dimension?

    Wow, looks like someone’s been working very hard behind the scenes. I like the new design, especially the way it respects the dark mode settings at all levels. It works more like an app now. AI probably should have done an article letting everyone know about the changes so we can provide feedback without hijacking a feature article. Anyway. Well done.
    flyingdp
  • Reply 6 of 12
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,866member
    dewme said:
    MacPro said:
    BTW off topic what just happened to the AI web site?  Did I just cross over in to a parallel dimension?

    Wow, looks like someone’s been working very hard behind the scenes. I like the new design, especially the way it respects the dark mode settings at all levels. It works more like an app now. AI probably should have done an article letting everyone know about the changes so we can provide feedback without hijacking a feature article. Anyway. Well done.
    Like for example what the H happened to commenting. I've tried three now and the comments all vanish and never post, (Let's see if this one survives)
  • Reply 7 of 12
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,551member
    DAalseth said:
    dewme said:
    MacPro said:
    BTW off topic what just happened to the AI web site?  Did I just cross over in to a parallel dimension?

    Wow, looks like someone’s been working very hard behind the scenes. I like the new design, especially the way it respects the dark mode settings at all levels. It works more like an app now. AI probably should have done an article letting everyone know about the changes so we can provide feedback without hijacking a feature article. Anyway. Well done.
    Like for example what the H happened to commenting. I've tried three now and the comments all vanish and never post, (Let's see if this one survives)
    Clearing your Safari cache and history may help. Until I did this the site was half old style and half new style.  Of course you’ll have to log in again to AI to submit comments. 
  • Reply 8 of 12
    stuartfstuartf Posts: 64member
    This feels like something that might be incorporated into an Apple Watch strap add-on? 

    Say hello to the new "diagnostic port" or "magic port" I predict 
  • Reply 9 of 12
    Eric_WVGGEric_WVGG Posts: 971member
    Personally I think they need to fork the Apple Watch now if they are going down this path.

    One full featured with all this stuff retaining current design roughly. 

    Another with just a basic HR monitor but in a slimmer case. I like my watch, but I just want the basics and would love it to be more slim line. 
    That's a really good idea… in fact when you put it that way, it sounds kind of inevitable. 

    My parents and my GF all have health-related versions to wear them. I use it mostly for weather and communication. All this "blood oxygen," anxiety, and blood pressure stuff sound like really cool features for people who aren't me. 
    edited May 2020 kkqd1337
  • Reply 10 of 12
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,866member
    dewme said:
    DAalseth said:
    dewme said:
    MacPro said:
    BTW off topic what just happened to the AI web site?  Did I just cross over in to a parallel dimension?

    Wow, looks like someone’s been working very hard behind the scenes. I like the new design, especially the way it respects the dark mode settings at all levels. It works more like an app now. AI probably should have done an article letting everyone know about the changes so we can provide feedback without hijacking a feature article. Anyway. Well done.
    Like for example what the H happened to commenting. I've tried three now and the comments all vanish and never post, (Let's see if this one survives)
    Clearing your Safari cache and history may help. Until I did this the site was half old style and half new style.  Of course you’ll have to log in again to AI to submit comments. 
    Happened on multiple devices and browsers. I found that I need to ignore the comment box below the article. Click on Read More In Forums, and once here it seems to work fine. But it was a bit of a discovery
  • Reply 11 of 12
    DAalseth said:
    dewme said:
    MacPro said:
    BTW off topic what just happened to the AI web site?  Did I just cross over in to a parallel dimension?

    Wow, looks like someone’s been working very hard behind the scenes. I like the new design, especially the way it respects the dark mode settings at all levels. It works more like an app now. AI probably should have done an article letting everyone know about the changes so we can provide feedback without hijacking a feature article. Anyway. Well done.
    Like for example what the H happened to commenting. I've tried three now and the comments all vanish and never post, (Let's see if this one survives)

    Me too. I posted this morning that this Watch would be useful as Omron recommends getting a new cuff every year......that message is not here.
  • Reply 12 of 12
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,447member
    dewme said:
    MacPro said:
    BTW off topic what just happened to the AI web site?  Did I just cross over in to a parallel dimension?

    Wow, looks like someone’s been working very hard behind the scenes. I like the new design, especially the way it respects the dark mode settings at all levels. It works more like an app now. AI probably should have done an article letting everyone know about the changes so we can provide feedback without hijacking a feature article. Anyway. Well done.
    https://forums.appleinsider.com/discussion/215804/the-big-redesign-feedback-thread
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