Fitbit Enables SpO2 Monitoring on Newer Wearables

Posted on January 16, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Fitbit with 7 Comments

Fitbit is enabling a blood oxygen (SpO2) monitoring feature on its Versa and Ionic smartwatches and Charge 3 wearables.

News of the new capability, which can help detect problems like sleep apnea, came first via a blog called TizenHelp, but it has since been confirmed by the company.

“Blood oxygen saturation normally fluctuates, but big variations can be linked to breathing issues,” a note in the Fitbit mobile app explains. “Estimated blood oxygen variation approximates the changes in your blood oxygen saturation.” The explanation is provided next to a graph of any given night’s estimated oxygen variation, with a divider between big and small variations.

Fitbit says that comparable wearables use “a combination of the red and infrared sensors on the back of your device, which are part of the SpO2 sensor,” to measure oxygen variation. And while this isn’t necessarily hugely accurate, those how do see large variations almost certainly suffer from some form of sleep disorder.

There’s no way to force the update that adds SpO2 monitoring as far as I know, but it appears to be available now in the United States and is rolling out to those with Fitbit Versa, Versa Lite, Versa 2, Ionic, or Charge 3 devices. Some competing wearables from Honor, Huawei, Huami already offer this functionality, but Apple Watch does not.

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Comments (7)

7 responses to “Fitbit Enables SpO2 Monitoring on Newer Wearables”

  1. dspeterson

    Amusingly, the Fitbit I had with this feature (Ionic) went through a complete lifecycle of purchase, inevitable death and fitbit not fixing it before this feature was even unlocked.

    Somehow my old Charge 2 that I forgot to get rid of lives on.

  2. Bats

    I have said this before and I'll say it again......Fitbit is the world's biggest data collector of health information in the universe.

    If people are not worried about this, then that's fine. However, for those who appear to champion the issue of "privacy" then you have no choice but to stay away from Fitbit watches. Absolutely no choice.

    • DavidSlade

      In reply to Bats:

      Bear in mind that their health information is inaccurate and of little value. I have a severe medical condition undergoing treatment. Fitbit regards my health as excellent and congratulates me on weight loss. It also recommends fitness regimes that would be harmful. I guess the same applies to all these devices.

      • Paul Thurrott

        That's a bit extreme. These devices aren't omniscient. They have sensors and take measurements. And it's not like competing wearables are magically more accurate.
  3. SvenJ

    In reply to MikeGalos: So if defibrillator ads start showing up in my browsing, I should be concerned?

  4. lvthunder

    So I guess this will be coming to Apple Watch in the fall.