News | Wearables | November 01, 2021

Apple Watch Adds New Breathing Test Based on ECG Analysis

The Vagus Breathe ECG app for the Apple Watch is the first test to measure the exact breathing flow with an electrocardiogram (ECG) recording. It uses a 30-second breathing test for wearable device. It is being used to monitor long-COVID patients.
The Vagus Breathe ECG app for the Apple Watch is the first test to measure the exact breathing flow with an electrocardiogram (ECG) recording. It uses a 30-second breathing test for wearable device. It is being used to monitor long-COVID patients.

November 1, 2021 — Health AI company Vagus.co, based in Cambridge, U.K., has launched a 30-second breathing test for Apple Watch. The wearable device technology enables users to see how they breath. The vendor is promoting the product to help with relieving stress through controlled breathing, but the technology may have applications for clinical monitoring. The vendor is looking at using it to monitor long-COVID patients.

Breathe ECG is the first test to use a smartwatch to measure the exact breathing flow with an electrocardiogram (ECG) recording. This app is based on eight years of research in Cambridge, Palo Alto and Helsinki. The technology is a massive boost not only for the users, but also for the B2B wellness and health self-care and coaching sector. 

The system combines AI, electrical conductivity and online analytics. It uses an electrical conduction effect initially explained by Dr Daniel Brody in the 1950s. Since it is difficult to detect on normal chest-based ECGs, it has not been used in any practical applications. Eight years ago, Gustaf Kranck discovered that this effect - when recorded as a "hand-to-hand" ECG combined with controlled breathing and state of art analytics – was a revolutionary breathing measurement. The signal in the Vagus ECG test is therefore a very precise measurement of the movement of the diaphragm as we breathe. This data opened Pandora's box for Vagus.co to use a person's breathing and breathing induced heart rate variability (HRV) as the key to their health.

Data gathered by smartwatch health apps is typically analyzed on a user’s smartphone, but the Breathe ECG uploads it to the cloud for deeper analysis with its own AI tools. Results are sent back to the user’s watch and phone in under 10 seconds. Vagus has already performed more than more than 25,000 user tests, and now boasts the world’s largest database of controlled-breathing ECGs.

“As our method had never been used before, we had to develop many new indices and parameters for interpreting the data,” explained Gustaf Kranck. “For instance, the breathing and cardiac smoothness indices – RSS and CSS – are something nobody had done before, but they are especially useful in diagnostics and monitoring. Most of our indices are in the 0-100 format, where 0 is bad and 100 is great.”  We calculate have more than 30 different kinds of health-related features. This exceeds anything done before with wearables or ECGs.

Most premium smartwatches nowadays have ECG sensors, and their sales are booming.   Apple alone has sold more than 80 million Apple Watches with ECG, but its use cases have been limited to traditional solutions such as pulse and the detection of atrial fibrillation. Apple has released a breathing measurement during sleep, but this is only an approximation of breathing calculated from arm movements of the sleeping person.

For more information: www.vagus.co 

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