Can a Smart Watch Save Your Life?

Category: Gadgets

An AskBob reader recently wrote to me asking about smartwatches. “There are so many on the market now, it is most confusing. What do I need to look for?” The latest smart watches can alert wearers to potential health problems, and call 911 if you slip and fall. Here is my advice on which of these gadgets may fit best into your digital life, and of course, on your wrist. Read on...

Smartwatch Reviews: Which is Best For You?

Smartwatches have evolved since their debut in the early 2010s. Like the ever-dividing branches of the tree of life, they are practically infinite in number and variety. Whatever you need, there’s likely a smartwatch that does it. Unfortunately, all that variety makes finding what you need more difficult. To simplify things, here are a few highly rated smartwatches in popular categories.

Overall, the Apple Watch Series 4 is definitely the best choice for iPhone users, and arguably for anyone. Its accelerometers can detect a fall, and if you don’t move soon the watch can call 911. It’s also the only smartwatch with a FDA-approved heart monitor. Apple Watch checks for unusually high or low heart rates, as well as irregular rhythms that could be signs of a serious condition such as atrial fibrillation (AFib). With the optional ECG app, Apple Watch can generate an ECG similar to a single-lead electrocardiogram. You have the option to share this health data with your doctor.

The One Drop Chrome Blood Glucose Monitoring Kit lets you connect your glucose monitor to your Apple Watch, so you can check levels at a glance. The Emergency SOS feature will call 911, send your current location, and notify your emergency contacts. It displays your Medical ID badge on the screen so emergency personnel can quickly assess your needs. Its fitness features include yoga and hiking workout monitors, with up to five workout metrics visible at once.

Smart Watch Reviews

So yes, it could save your life, and it's a lot cooler than one of those embarrassing "life alert" pendants. Plus it has Apple Pay touchless payments, Apple Music and Podcasts, Siri Shortcuts for voice control of apps. You can make and answer phone calls or text messages, too. The Apple Watch comes in several colors and styles. Available for $400 on Amazon.

The Fitbit Versa is an activity monitor par excellence; it even tracks your sleeping stages! Its 15 exercise modes range from Run to Swim (it’s water-resistant to 50 meters). It connects to a smartphone’s GPS for more precise real-time pace and distance measurements. You can store 300+ songs or stream music from Pandora and Deezer. Fitbit Pay is a mobile payment system that works with select bank accounts. The watch displays notifications from a Bluetooth-connected phone, and the Android Versa lets you send quick replies to text messages. Available for $192.90 on Amazon.

As I mentioned at the outset, there are many other brands, models, options and niches for smart watch wearers. If you're into fashion, there are models from Kate Spade and Michael Kors. Other notable smartwatch brands include Pebble, Fossil, and Garmin. Browse and compare dozens of Smart Watches here.

Samsung’s Galaxy Watch is an ideal mate for Android phones, and is somewhat compatible with iPhones. Even when your connected phone is out of reach, the Galaxy Watch’s speaker and mic let you take and make calls, and reply to texts. You can also access sports, weather, news headlines, and audio playlists. The Galaxy Watch monitors heart rate and detects when you switch activities. It can store up to 40 workouts and display their metrics. An integrated scheduler displays tomorrow’s appointments and weather. Available for $190 to $300 on Amazon.

The TicWatch by Mobvoi is a budget-minded fitness tracker with a number of smartwatch features. Voice control via Google Assistant powers this Wear OS watch. Thousands of compatible apps make the TicWatch highly customizable. Apps enable you to find new jogging routes, perfect your golf swing, or request a car ride from Uber or Lyft. You can track workout data in Google Fit and get coaching for your favorite sports and workout activities. Available for $144 on Amazon.

As these examples suggest, health and fitness is the niche that smartwatches have settled into. Smartwatches are also useful as portable music players and mobile payment wallets. As tech improves, more affordable smartwatches with communications capabilities equal to smartphones may appear, but those days are not here yet.

Would you wear a smartwatch to help monitor your health or improve fitness levels? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Can a Smart Watch Save Your Life?"

Posted by:

28 Feb 2019

Doubt I'll ever get one. I see OCD in the future.

Besides, who knows it may be sending this data surreptitiously to someone else.

No thanks.0

Posted by:

28 Feb 2019

The problem with the Apple Watch iPhone system is the watch is only allowed on the most expensive post paid plans; not any prepaid plans ie. plans like Trac. That makes it very expensive for you to get and setup for Mom or yourself. With taxes and the monthly $10 watch charge it can run around $100 a month

Posted by:

28 Feb 2019

" It’s also the only smartwatch with a FDA-approved heart monitor. Apple Watch checks for unusually high or low heart rates, as well as irregular rhythms that could be signs of a serious condition such as atrial fibrillation (AFib). With the optional ECG app, Apple Watch can generate an ECG similar to a single-lead electrocardiogram."
What percent of the population would this be likely to ever help?
No problem with it if you need this type of monitoring but why pay the hefty Apple "cool tax" for many things that are not useful to 90% of people?

If this level of monitoring is really useful or likely to save your life, you should be getting a doctor to prescribe its use.

Posted by:

28 Feb 2019

My wife and I like the Garmin watches because they have been water resistant.

Posted by:

Mark G,
28 Feb 2019

>> Can a Smart Watch Save Your Life?
Only if it work reliably, which pretty much takes Fitbit out of the equation. They replaced my Charge2 5 times during the warranty period, all for the same problem. Then, once the warranty year was up (replacement units don't extend the warranty) all they would do was offer me 25% off the purchase of a new one (and why would I want to buy a new Fitbit when they've shown such a lack of reliability?)!

Posted by:

28 Feb 2019

i have a garmin watch. it tracks my heart rate and walking steps. original cost at $125

Posted by:

28 Feb 2019

I recently upgraded my Fitbit Surge to a Fitbit Ionic. I looked hard at Apple Watch, but the main reasons I didn't go with it were: 1) battery life, 2) battery life, 3) battery life. The Apple watch has to be charged nightly. I get 4-5 days per charge on my Ionic (less if I use GPS tracking). One of the most valuable features is the sleep tracking. It tracks your sleep stages (Deep, REM, Light) and your heart rate while you sleep. Very valuable healthwise. You can't do that when you charge every night. Did I mention the Apple Watch battery life?

Posted by:

Robert A.
28 Feb 2019

A couple months ago, I bought the newest Samsung Galaxy watch, at Costco, for the bargain price of $280.00. That watch sold at Best Buy is currently retailing for about $50 to $70 more.

The units sold at Costco come with the bonus of a second charger, so one can recharge the watch either at home, or possibly at one's jobsite. The watch is remarkable in that the battery is capable of a three to four day run cycle, unlike some smartwatches that essentially need charging every night.

The Galaxy watch is extremely customizable, in that one can run it either as a analog face or digital face, with about five of each, built in and changeable to the watch. Hundreds of mini apps are available, some free and some available for usually way under $5.00 for various optional watch faces. You can change the faces at whim from a basic Casio digital to many that look like those spacey, high buck, G-Shock watches, with multi-colored stripes and secondary time readouts, or even a clone of high end Omega, Cartier or Rolex analog faces.

After about a half hour getting it paired up with my LG Android phone, I was awed with all the neat features available. The basic face shows the charge level, the month and date, the local outdoor temperature, as reported by AccuWeather as well as a cumulative total to steps walked, which resets back to zero, at midnight.

Oher apps allow one to download the list of phone numbers, and make and receive phone calls, ala Dick Tracy, on one's wrist. It also comes with a comprehensive sleep monitoring app that keeps track of the hours and minutes of light sleep, deep sleep and even REM sleep. A bar graph shows the amount of sleep one got overnight with that of the previous nights in the week, and calculates the efficiency of one's sleep. (This only works. of course, if the watch is worn while sleeping. I put mine on the charger about ever 3.5 days, as I get out of bed, during breakfast and then while in the shower.)

The Galaxy watch allow one to link-up with the Samsung Pay App, which, installed on the phone, allows the wearer to charge purchases by selecting that app by rotating the black bezel surrounding the watch face, and holding it up to the Near Field Communication (NFC) sensor, at the checkout register, without bringing out a credit card. A health app reminds the wearer, if they inactive for about 45 minutes, to get up and walk around, or to do some torso twists, to get the heart rate back up.

Bottom line, I'm very satisfied with the Galaxy Watch. With all the available apps and the long battery life, I think it's a winner.

Posted by:

Brian B
01 Mar 2019

That's all very well, but can they wash dishes and cook the evening meal?

If I need/want a watch, I'll buy a watch. Everything else is just "must have" baggage.

Posted by:

Walter Davis
01 Mar 2019

I have a Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro purchased from Best Buy refurbish sale for $89 (originally about $200). How much can be refurbished on a sealed wearable is beyond me, probably just a return. Tracks sleep, heart rate, fitness levels, reminders, notifications from phone and more. Recently had heart issues and now in cardio rehab. My Gear fit helps me keep track of all workouts. Waterproof. Does Spotify and more, still learning. Does need charging about every other day, do it during my morning wake-up routine. Better than spending $400 for an Apple.

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