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Garmin ECG/EKG Capability
As of today, Garmin still has no official ECG/EKG functionality. That’s probably about to change at some point this year where we will, most likely, see the feature enabled on Venu 2 Plus and Fenix 7/Epix 2.
How do we know this?
Firstly Garmin started ECG trials in 2021. They would have been based on a complete or near-complete sensor and that research would have finished a while back. Secondly, the leaked Fenix 7 images prior to launch showed a modified ‘start’ button whose design seemed consistent with the requirements of an ECG/EKG (I’ll come back to that). Thirdly dcrainmaker’s site has just found some hidden ECG/EKG functionality on new Venu 2+ watches that have not had their firmware updated.
Link to: Garmin Trials Info
ECG/EKG is a wellness feature that will predominantly be of use to people monitoring their concerns for certain medical conditions. Whilst it is not a sports feature per se, the recent high profile case of football player C Eriksen highlighted that even professional athletes can suffer heart attacks.
So…it’s a useful feature that certain watch buyers might highly prize.
It needs certification though and that takes a while to get as the certification requires some degree of proof that the sensor works! Garmin is slightly behind the curve here. One of the markets it needs to better penetrate IS the wellness market and its competitors have already had this functionality for quite some time on these watches:
- Apple Watch Series 4, 5, 6, 7
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, 4
- Fitbit Sense
- Withings Move ECG
- Amazfit Smartwatch 2
Garmin simply has to follow suit (and clearly is)
How does it work?
An ECG/EKG works by analysing the electrical signal that your heartbeat produces. My understanding is that there are various degrees of accuracy of ECG/EKG machines and that clinical-grade ECGs can have 12-leads. Watches are equivalent to a one lead (Lead 1) setup.
In a clinical setting, you will have various wires stuck over your body but clearly, no one is going to do that whilst using a watch. So the watch requires you to form an electrical circuit which could be achieved as you touch the bezel (Venu) or start button (Fenix) of the watch and then the electrical signal goes up the touching arm across your chest and to the underside of the watch – and that’s the circuit. There will be many complications and just one is that your ‘action’ finger must be isolated from the electrode on the underside of the watch.
Which Models Will Get ECG/EKG?
First and foremost, ECG/EKG is a hardware feature. Either your current watch has the ECG bits and pieces or it doesn’t. My guess is that Venu 2+ and Fenix 7/Epix 2 are the only ones that have this. However, any future watch like a FR65 or FR255 or Forerunner 955 could also get it (check the existence of a metal start button). My further guess would be that this will first and foremost be a wellness feature that Venu/Vivoactive type watches get but also a premium feature that Fenix 7/Epix 2/Marq 2 also get.
This is simply a case of catch-up innovation from Garmin that fills a customer need in the “wellness watch” space of the market.
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