Apple Watch’s ECG Biometrics Come to Hong Kong and Europe

“While the ECG capability is itself a significant technological advancement, it’s possible that the underlying technology could eventually be leveraged for biometric authentication, since each individual’s cardiac data is unique.”

Apple Watch's ECG Biometrics Come to Hong Kong and Europe

The Apple Watch’s electrocardiogram capability is now being rolled out in Europe and Hong Kong through a new software update.

First unveiled along with Apple’s latest iPhones last September, the ECG system was one of the more prominent new features of the Apple Watch Series 4. It uses electrodes built into the Digital Crown and back crystal of the device to monitor electrical signals connected to heart activity. This ECG activity is recorded in a specialized ECG app and exported to the iPhone’s Health app for storage.

According to Apple, such ECG readings can offer valuable health data, particularly with respect to detecting atrial fibrillation, or AFib, a condition that can lead to stroke. The ECG data from the Health app can be shared as a PDF with physicians, potentially enabling diagnosis and treatment for conditions that otherwise might have gone undetected.

Now, the ECG app and a related irregular rhythm notification have received CE certification marking their compliance with European Economic Area health standards, and is making its way to 19 European markets, in addition to Hong Kong, through the watchOS 5.2 software update.

While the ECG capability is itself a significant technological advancement, it’s possible that the underlying technology could eventually be leveraged for biometric authentication, since each individual’s cardiac data is unique. And given Apple’s penchant for championing innovative biometric technology, this could be in the cards once users get comfortable with having their smartwatches check their pulse.