Samsung Galaxy Watch Active: questions raised over blood pressure monitoring accuracy

There are still a number of questions over this health tracking feature

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active

Last week Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Watch Active – a new smartwatch with a big focus on health and fitness tracking. 

It's headline feature was the ability to monitor the wearer's blood pressure, which would be a first for consumer wearable tech, but a recent report from CNBC has raised doubts at how useful this feature will be.

When Samsung first announced the feature it was quite vague, claiming all you'd need to do was download the 'My BP Lab' research app, jointly developed with the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). This would "monitor blood pressure and keep better track of your physical health every day".

Monitoring blood pressure is notoriously difficult to measure however, and the fact that Samsung breezed over this in its presentation raised some eyebrows.

Samsung has now given CNBC more information on how the feature will work:

  • When users first set up the app, they set up a blood pressure reading measured by a cuff to get an accurate first read
  • The app uses the raw signal from the reading to calculate blood pressure
  • The device has an optical sensor to measure heart rate

This led to CNBC claiming that the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active is a step in the right direction, but "not a breakthrough".

When contacted for a quote from CNBC, expert Randy Kellogg from Omron Healthcare, stated, “I can only guess that they are planning on a fitness blood pressure reading calculated from the optical sensor that is used for heart rate monitoring. It would be an estimation of blood pressure in that case, but could not be used for diagnosis.”

CNBC finished the report claiming that the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active could prove useful, especially when comparing measurements to other factors that impact the wearer’s blood pressure, like exercise or stress, but "it’s not enough of a breakthrough to give Apple a scare – at least not yet".

We'll wait to reserve judgement until we've spent a few weeks reviewing the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active. Stay tuned to T3 for updates.