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New study identifies which wearable has the most accurate heart-rate sensor

A study published in JAMA Cardiology has compared several popular wrist-based wearables to see which one provides the most accurate heart-rate measurements.

Published onOctober 13, 2016

Apple Watch Sport 5-AA

A study published in JAMA Cardiology (don’t pretend you haven’t heard of it) has found the Apple Watch to be the most accurate wrist-based wearable for measuring your heart rate.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, tested how four popular wearables measured the heart rate of ‘50 healthy adults’. The participants were asked to walk and jog on a treadmill while being simultaneously measured by an electrocardiogram (i.e. a medical device that’s incredibly accurate) and the Apple Watch, Fitbit Charge HR, Mio Alpha and Basis Peak.

Incidentally, the Basis Peak was recently recalled after overheating caused burns on some users. It’s been a bad few months for overheating. Sadly no mainstream Android Wear smartwatches were included in the study though.

According to Time, the study found that the Apple Watch was the most accurate at around 90 percent, while the others were in the low 80s. Though it would have been interesting to see how Android Wear and Tizen smartwatches held up in the comparison, one insight from the study was quite telling of the broader wrist-mounted wearable landscape.

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An Apple Watch Series 9 displays the Modular watch face.

Dr. Gordon Blackburn, one of the study’s authors, said that “at the higher levels of activity, some of the wrist technology was not accurate at all.”

Dr. Blackburn said the reason for this was inherent to wrist technologies, stating: “you need to have good contact between the photosensing cells; as a person is exercising more vigorously, there’s more bounce, so you may lose some of that contact.”

In other words, if you’re looking for the most accurate way to measure your heart rate, don’t rely on a smartwatch. 

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