A couple of the big headlines coming out of Samsung’s Unpack release event included the announcement of its Galaxy Buds Apple Airpods competitor and the Galaxy Fold foldable smartphone with its eye-popping $1,980 price tag, but the Korean tech giant also unveiled its continuing efforts to take on health-oriented fitness wearables like the Fibit and the Apple Watch.
The company’s new Galaxy Active smartwatch updates and upgrades its Galaxy Watch capabilities with increased health monitoring capabilities including blood pressure tracking, alongside standard fitness wearable features like heart rate monitoring and sleep and step tracking.
The company’s blood pressure monitoring research app called My BP Lab was developed in conjunction with clinicians at UC San Francisco and will be released for download on March 15.
The Galaxy Active smartwatch itself will be released on March 8 and will retail for $199.99.
Details are scant about how exactly the device will measure blood pressure, but the current band design means that it likely will not function like Omron’s FDA-cleared HeartGuide smartwatch, which uses an inflatable cuff that is part of the watch band to measure blood pressure.
A prior version of the My BP Lab application meant for use with Samsung smartphones used the optic sensor on the back of the device to measure pulse and blood volume changes from the fingertip.
Galaxy smartwatches also have optical sensors for heart rate monitoring, which can function in the same capacity. The My BP Lab team also recommends that users take their blood pressure with a home blood pressure monitor to create a baseline to measure against.
Importantly, the study’s website cautions that the application is meant to research how the body responds to stress and is not meant to be used for diagnostic purposes.
Sleep tracking has become an area of differentiation against the Apple Watch for device makers looking to push further into the health and wellness space.
Wearables from companies like Garmin and Samsung have standard sleep cycle tracking abilities as opposed to the Apple Watch, which only offers the feature through third-party app developers.
Alongside the Galaxy Watch Active, Samsung announced its Galaxy Fit line of fitness trackers which links with the Samsung Health app and can be used to meet fitness goals. The device is water resistant and has a week-long battery life.
It also shares capabilities with the Galaxy Watch Active including sleep monitoring and stress management features.
“(The Galaxy Watch Active and the Galaxy Fit) include heart rate monitors and offer continuous stress tracking to keep you calm when life gets overwhelming,” Elina Vives, head of marketing for computing, smartwatches, audio and VR at Samsung Electronics America, said at the Samsung event.
“Your body is a delicate ecosystem, that’s why our ecosystem helps you take care of it. This entire line of new wearables has been designed to work seamlessly together, and with all of your Samsung products.”