Update, September 14, 2020 (12:00 PM ET): The original article below suggests it could be November or even December before we’ll see the Fitbit Sense ECG feature. However, Fitbit confirmed to Android Authority today that the feature will actually arrive by October 2020.
Fitbit said that it has received 510(k) clearance from the FDA as well as CE marking in the European Union for the Sense. That means buyers in those areas won’t need to wait long before being able to use the ECG feature.
The ECG monitor will enable users to get early alerts to problems like atrial fibrillation (AFIb).
Original article, August 26, 2020 (02:00 PM ET): Fitbit made a big deal of the ECG heart sensor in its Sense smartwatch, but when will you get to use it? Thankfully, you probably won’t need to wait too long.
Fitbit’s devices VP Larry Yang told Wareable that the ECG was in the “final review” process with the FDA and would receive clearance in both the US and the European Union “this side of the holidays.” An additional spokesperson added that the company couldn’t provide a specific date.
Fitbit Sense ECG: Why the delay?
This doesn’t guarantee that ECG functionality will be available the moment Fitbit receives clearance. Fitbit will still need to deliver updates to switch on the feature. Still, this suggests that you won’t need to wait until 2021 to check for signs of possible heart irregularities like atrial fibrillation.
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While this could leave you waiting months for the functionality, that kind of delay is all too common for ECG functions on smartwatches. The Apple Watch Series 4’s ECG sensor wasn’t usable in the US until December 2018, months after launch. It took even longer still to reach other countries. The Galaxy Watch 3’s sensor has cleared the FDA but still hasn’t been activated in the US. And, as Wareable notes, Withings has struggled to get ECG approval for devices like the ScanWatch despite months of waiting.
Clearances can take a long time due to the very nature of testing. Even a minor change mid-development might require a new clinical study, making it difficult to predict exactly when officials will approve medical tech. That’s important for an ECG sensor that could prompt a trip to the doctor, but it can be frustrating if you’re eager to use every last feature of your watch.