Apple is playing it safe when it comes to expanding the health tracking capabilities of the Apple Watch. The two temperature sensors of the Apple Watch Series 8 and Ultra are thus limited to the retrospective estimation of ovulation, whilethey could do so much more. The same goes for stress, according to researchers at the University of Waterloo, Canada.
Participants from the study received an iPhone 7 with iOS 15, and an Apple Watch Series 6 which embeds the ECG app. For two weeks, they performed an electrocardiogram with the watch, six times a day at approximately three-hour intervals. To complete these data, the guinea pigs also answered a questionnaire on stress from an iPhone application developed for the occasion.
The researchers hypothesize that data collected by the Apple Watch’s ECG can be used to predict stress. ” Users would perform a 30-second non-invasive EKG, and they would get instant feedback on their stress level “, according to them. Heart rate variability (HRV) in particular has come under scrutiny, as this metric can actually be used to measure stress levels.
A predictive model was developed using a machine learning algorithm fed with HRV data. This results in stress measures with a “ high level of precision but the researchers believe that the Apple Watch is able to improve things even further by tapping into the additional information it regularly collects, such as physical activity and sleep.
In other words, Apple has everything it takes to create an accurate and efficient stress tracker. For the moment, however, we must be satisfied with the Mindfulness app and its reminders (unrelated to the condition of the user) to reduce stress. Or go through third-party applications, such as Stress Monitor for Watchto get an idea of his level of anxiety.
In this area, Apple is behind the competition. As the site reminds MyHealthyAppleFitbit and Garmin offer “stress scores” with their products, notably calculated from HRV.