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Apple's latest wares

Apple has announced a new watch which claims to measure blood oxygen.
Cnet: `The new Series 6 Apple Watch , unveiled Tuesday, can measure people’s blood oxygen levels in 15 seconds, Apple claims . Blood oxygen levels are an indicator of the severity of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus’
New Scientist periodical looks at this and notes Apple has provided no proof of the technology or the accuracy- I purchases a $30 watch a year or so ago that ALSO clomas to measure blood oxygen and generates figures within the typical range!
Apple has also introduced a lidar scanner in its recent iPad and new iphone - tests I have seen state that the lidar does not increase accuracy in locational tracking or anything else- maybe there is something else it does as allowed by new software?

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LiDAR is an imaging scanning tool that can provide 3D representations of objects, measure movement, gestures etc. It’s use is not connected to “location tracking” as in GPS. Perhaps the reviews were referring to the accuracy or repeatability of the location of objects on the 3D scans?

Certainly worthy of question as have a number of reviewers. Measuring blood oxygen aside, there are many everyday events and medical conditions that can cause lower blood oxygen levels than usual.

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Maybe my terminology was a bit loose- the test i saw on the iPad concerns spatial tracking for AR (not GPS) is at https://www.vgis.io/2020/04/23/2020-ipad-pro-does-the-lidar-sensor-improve-spatial-tracking/
One of their findings `…the current implementation of the LiDAR scanner embedded in the 2020 iPad Pro falls short of expectations. It may offer some improvements in surface scanning and distance detection. But with respect to spatial tracking, the LiDAR appears to add little or no value. Perhaps Apple has not yet fully utilized the LiDAR sensor and has not yet fully exploited the capabilities of the new hardware. On the other hand, perhaps LiDAR is simply unable to improve position tracking, so that doing so requires an alternative technology.’

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Perhaps so?

Commercial topographical mapping LiDAR is a well established technology. It can reliably measure topography with a vertical accuracy of +/- 100mm from an aircraft flying high over head. It can also resolve objects or features less than 0.5m in size.

There are various commercial devices that are shorter range suitable for 3D scanning large buildings down to small machine parts. Budget required enough to equip a classroom full of iPads.

LiDAR on the cheap? If a moving aircraft can do it, so might Apple, one day? Alternately

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The Watch came last month. Today was about the Homepod Mini and the new iPhones. I may get an iPhone Mini, I’ve been wanting a bigger screen but smaller body for ages. Its not much bigger than the 5/SE but the screen in 5.4”. It will do me.

LiDAR is in the iPhone 12 Pro models. It looked OK for what it is, in the keynote, but its not something I would bother with.

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Pulse oximetry is no new technology, though having a regular monitor outside of a medical setting probably is. I bought a device for about $5 a few years ago that is as accurate as what my GP uses (we looked at them side by side).

I would be totally unsurprised if the watch is accurate - but then you have to consider whether the wearer has any idea how to use the data.

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Sounds like a bit of sales puffery.

Perhaps it would be more correct if it read: If nothing unusual has been done by or occurred to the wearer, lower than normal blood oxygen levels MAY POSSIBLY be an indicator of the presence of COVID-19??

Blood oxygen varies with activity, fitness of the preson, other illnesses, iron count, etc, etc, …
so a blood O2 measure should not be used as an indicator of the severity of COVID.

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On demand pulse oximetry is a pretty exciting thing if you live with a chronic respiratory condition, especially when you are undergoing cardiovascular fitness training.

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Indeed it is exciting as long as it is an accurate enough reading. Not sure where these items rate accuracy wise and more importantly under what conditions.

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Pulse oximetry is not blood oxygen levels, it’s a percentage of red blood cells saturated with oxygen. Similar tech used on Garmin flagship models. Pulse oximetry is cute, but the levels quoted as being normal ie 98% and above is a furphy. Normal for people is dependent on many factors including concurrent medical conditions and age. Really though, above 92-94% is fine.

Pulse oximetry as a tool is useful if you understand the significance, but as we say in healthcare, treat the patient, not the monitor. They are just a tool.

Similarly, the quote that it’s optical sensor is a ‘Heart Rate’ sensor is also incorrect- this claim is made by all that use optical sensors incorrectly. A pulse measurement isn’t necessarily a heart rate measurement and some irregular hear contractions do no produce a measurable pulse every time. Whilst the Watch 5 & 6 both have capability for ECG, they are not approved yet and therefore shouldn’t be measuring ECG heart rates in the background.

I think their wording is very misleading, but conveniently barren when it suits.

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Typical of most marketing of products on the bleeding edge of technology and human need, … oops I mean desire?

I’m not sure that is taught best medical practice? There are others in the community who may be able to clarify?

In the interim:

Hate to say it, but you could always do it the old fashioned way and download for free & read the iPad manual on the Books app. It explains that the LIDAR is in the Pro models and is used for the Measure app that can help someone like a kitchen designer doing a quote draw up and measure a three dimensional object like a kitchen bench, by imposing dimensions on say a photo of a kitchen bench. Of course it is pretty accurate but probably not enough to build a bench.

I have no idea how well it works as I don’t have one, but I see plenty of trade/building/design/architecture & survey professionals carrying iPads these days to jobs and using them for quotes and for taking photos back to the office to work on a design, so maybe some find it useful. Hope this answers the question to some degree.

Sorry to be blunt, and this is aimed at everyone not just this commenter. This query raises a question for these CHOICE Community threads. While personal opinions based on actual use can be definitely be valuable at times, speculation based on personal opinion which is based on little but more opinion, when Apple can give you the answer is something I find frustrating.

What I see as the continual attempts to ferret out example of fault or mediocrity with Apple I find quite amazing. No-one forces you to have the LIDAR unless you want that model and have a use for it. Neither Apple nor Samsung nor brand or model of anything is perfect, and while there are things I’ll never use or I think could at the margin be improved, there IS continual improvement in this field and I wonder if we could just focus on that and assess that reality. I’m not saying don’t be critical, I’m saying do your homework and save the criticism for where it is really warranted.

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The various uses of the blood measuring device on the Apple watch have been approved for use in the USA and many countries but not yet Australia. So presumably they have some validity somewhere.

In Australia, only the blood oxygen has been approved for use, so it is presumably the slowness of our TGA and our bureaucratic hurdles holding things up. Maybe that’s a good thing at the end of the day, but medicine is a very conservative field and I listen on podcasts to very highly qualified medical innovators like cardiac surgeons who have started and run med schools and now are involved in developing new technology for the masses who see it as essential to our future that new cheap devices for the masses break the stranglehold that doctors and professionals have.

It is like when the Bible was handwritten in Latin and interpreted to the ignorant by the priests, who maintained their power. It took the printing revolution to change that. In the last few weeks we have been to two doctors, one very qualified, the other less so. The less qualified said “do not google, talk to your doctor”. The qualified (and fairly young) specialist said “Google away, then ask me questions.” One of them I think understands the future of medicine where we are empowered if we want to be and doctors treat us as co-companions in managing our medical health.

Approval by the TGA is based on the principle of doing no harm. What are the conditions of the approval granted?

Whether the device is reliable and accurate. Is it calibrated and does it come with a certificate to verify compliance to the recognised ISO or Australian Standards?

Not wanting to knock new technology, it’s up to Apple to prove. Does the device meets the same standard as a dedicated approved device used medically for the same purpose.

Marketing any product as an aid to managing health is common. Whether any app or tool can be reliably used for self diagnosis. Caution knowing medical professionals require many hard and long years to gain the most basic qualification.

One shared view, biased or not?

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It is always nice to see evidence provided for claims on this forum.

However, this evidence has nothing to do with the Apple watch’s current reliability in meeting its claims. It was a 2019 test of 3 apps on an iPhone 5s (why use an iPhone 5s in 2019 when it is out of date & cannot use the current operating system which would have enhanced health capabilities).

Also, it used the phone’s camera. I can totally understand that a device built for taking photographs does not work well as a device for measuring cardiac or blood parameters. The third app used an attached device of unspecified provenance.

Therefore this irrelevant reference is not something that throws light on the question at hand which is the current Apple Watch and app. I for one will not make my purchase decisions on the opinion (and that is all it is) of one doctor with his/her own set of needs and biases,

Finally, Apple makes no claim to replicate hospital grade equipment. It does suggest you can use it to detect things that should be brought to the attention of doctors. E.G on Covid, see https://www.apple.com/healthcare/docs/site/Apple_ECG_app_during_COVID-19.pdf

Yes, ultimately it is up to Apple to prove its claims, which are modest. I guess it is a matter of whether you think it is a good idea for consumers to take some responsibility and have some agency for their own health (provided the stuff works).

As a person with disabilities under the heavy, costly, paternalistic yoke of the medical profession & governments for 40 years, I personally think this is a fantastic direction for manufacturers to be taking, and CHOICE and others should be positive, even as they are cautious.

The point about the TGA is that the Apple watch capabilities have been ‘cleared’ by the FDA (Google if you want more), and the fact that all the functions are available in many advanced countries like UK, Sweden, Austria (See Apple’s watch specs) but NOT in Australia where we have the TGA which is so conservative it ignored the withdrawal of dangerous medical devices such as defective hips, meshes and implants long after they were banned in other advanced countries suggest to me as a consumer that while I’ll take into account what the TDA says, or does not say, I will also seek information elsewhere.

This is a consumer forum and as a consumer I’d like all the features please Mr/Ms TGA and Scomo. And Mr/Ms TDA if you have real evidence other than being busy elsewhere why I should not have them I’d like that too.

Once again, I’d urge all contributors to this forum to not just give opinions but to report on actual use, or to find out easily found facts and use sound arguments to help the others on this website.

I would call this Washington Post click bait, because articles critical of Apple have always sold papers.

I bought my first Apple Mac in 1985, and have used them ever since, so I’m biased, I admit. But I was always forced to use IBM/MS etc. products at work so I always had a comparison. At one stage I had emulation software on my Mac & found to my surprise that the then version of MS operating system was not actually too bad when run on the Mac without all the free bloatware that comes with it. It did not crash on the Mac.

As an early adopter, I had a similar catharsis with the now long forgotten Windows CE operating system used on phones before the first iPhone came out. I clearly remember how each upgrade made the thing run less reliably, and it would not sync with my MS system computer. So I bought an iPhone and the Apple product actually synced with the Microsoft computer operating system better and faster than the Microsoft one.

Now, I know things have changed. A lot. But one thing that has not is the constant 35 year stream of click-bait articles which have funded thousands of journalists lives, based on why Apple is bad.

Believe that if you want. I have 7 apple devices in my house and they all work, seamlessly. The only times I have had trouble in 35 years they have fixed it either without charge, or cheaply, as it was a known fault, or else the software from another maker stuffed things up. They have never argued, they answer my calls, they are polite. They are not perfect. No-one is. They don’t claim to make hospital grade devices so why compare them with that or what your average superior doctor says.

Just accept the technology for now as what it is for now, and have a happy life while they go on inventing more and better features, some of which you will use, and some you won’t. Just forget the clickbait industry and go on your own experiences. Thats my opinion, based on 35 years.

Would easily found facts include the conditions of the TGA approval and relevant standards certifications recognised in Australia?

It would indeed be meaningful on a sample of one basis to have a user of an Apple Watch with the installed App to offer a comparison of their results to a medical grade instrument designed for the same purpose. IE measurement of blood oxygen levels.

Not opinions. Just a search for the full facts.

That is how I would describe any claims by Apple in their advertising that suggest their device and App is useful in detecting Covid-19. As far as the public advice goes the best way to detect Covid-19 is for anyone who might have had contact or is displaying any early symptoms to get tested.

It’s highly likely those who are asymptomatic and are coping with the infection invisibly will have zero change in their blood oxygen levels. Is there any evidence at all that suppressed blood oxygen levels are an early sign of Covid-19?

IMO it is extremely dangerous to suggest that the personal monitoring of oxygen blood levels is a safe and effective strategy for detecting the onset of a Covid infection. It’s not part of the testing regime. A lowered blood oxygen level is likely to indicate so many other physical conditions it is meaningless as a strategy. Is you are feeling unwell, get tested. Don’t wait for your blood oxygen to fall before acting might be an opinion. It might also be the right advice.

It’s Apple and others who are using the fear of Covid as Click-bait!

I hope this alternative view point does not stop consumers buying a new Apple Watch. There are many other features aside from the blood oxygen measurement to consider.

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Why is nobody discussing the iphone 12 which was announced. Thats the latest. Maybe the topic should be Apple’s latest Watch.

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