The Top Features to Look for in a Smart Health Watch
| Reuben Howe
Digital Healthcare is an up-and-coming industry that is projected to only grow further, with the NHS and other health organisations looking to streamline patient care. Remote healthcare is an obvious benefit, but there are so many features crammed in to smart health watches that finding a device to do exactly what you need can be confusing.
The exact trackers, monitors and measurements you need from your smart watches might be different from someone else, who may be more focussed on sports and activity while you are focussed on passive heartrate measurement for general health.
These are the top features to look out for and to understand when looking for a new smart watch, and the best types of watch or wristband for each job!
To be a worthwhile investment, health and fitness watches need to last. Longevity through their materials, battery life, usage and even charging ports are all physical properties worth considering when in the market for the best smart health watch.
1. IPXX Physical and Water Resistant
IPXX Ratings are a quick way of identifying how resistant a device is to particulates and to liquids. We have a full article about the IPXX rating system here, but essentially the first number is the physical defence of the item and the second number is the liquid defence.
For example: An IP68 rated watch like the Samsung Galaxy watches have 6 out of 9 resistance to particulates, dust, sand etc. They have 8 out of 9 resistance to water and liquids, protecting from light submersion and from water jets from all angles.
Waterproofing is vital for a health watch to be usable in the shower or on rainy days as well as being sweatproof for workouts and hiking. The physical ingress protection helps the watches stay functional on sandy beaches, dusty desks and more.
2. Strap Size
Another physical property that can be overlooked, as you excitedly look at heart rate and blood pressure monitoring, is the strap size and material. This watch or wristband will become a daily-use item in most situations, and needs to be light and comfortable as well as adjustable.
AUDAR Smart Watches are a prime example for this, and many other features on the list! As you can see below, the watch strap is adjustable on the AUDAR KERi between 130mm and 190mm circumference. This means a loose and snug fit can be achieved easily. Never forget to check the size range when looking at smart health watch features!
3. Battery and Charging
The final physical property before we get on to the proper medical stuff. When you’re looking in to smart health devices you need something reliable and long-lasting. The KERi we just saw lasts up to a month on a single recharge, for example.
That kind of battery life ensures you can slap the wristband on and forget about it, allowing you the freedom to do as you normally would without feeling hindered.
Recharging should also be accessible and simple. While a Fitbit Charge needs a magnetic connection and precise placement into a charging cradle, simpler designs like the KERi actually house a fast-charge USB-C port inside the strap itself. This saves on space, time, and accessories while still providing an excessive amount of battery life.
Monitors and Trackers
With the physical properties of the smart health watch decided and addressed, we can dive in to the real functionality of the device! There’s no point having blood pressure, heart rate monitoring, ECG, calorie burn and more if the watch didn’t fit, after all.
The top monitors to look for are:
- Full ECG Monitoring (Not just heart rate)
- Blood Pressure Monitoring
- Blood Oxygen Monitoring
- Dedicated Sports Modes / Calorie and Distance Mode
- Sleep Tracking
These elements together create a complete, comprehensive view of your health while also giving you detailed information about exercise and sleep. This is why physical properties were so important, because fitness trackers can be worn 24/7!
1. Full ECG Heart Monitor Smart Watch
Firstly, the heart.
It’s always the first concern when choosing features in your new smart health watch, and for good reason. Almost all fitness trackers on the market will give a heartrate monitor. This will be at least a simple display of BPM, preferably as a continuous heart rate that can be automatically recorded and shown over time.
An ECG is a little more advanced, though. Rather than a physical measurement, an ECG picks up the electronic signals used to convulse the heart. Essentially, an ECG tells us not just that the heart is beating but exactly how strongly it is being told to beat. This can, for example, show when more energy than usual is being expended to pump blood through your system and this could be an early indicator of a potential problem.
An ECG provides more accuracy at the cost of flexibility, because they have to be performed manually. Whether that appeals to you and your needs is entirely dependent on what you hope to use your new health and fitness device for.
2. Blood Pressure Monitoring
A feature that the majority of smart watches overlook is blood pressure. While many watches provide heart data and fitness tracking, very few dedicate to a full spectrum of data on blood. This is why it is easy to identify the one’s who do it right.
While the Apple watch series need a separately connected blood pressure monitor and Garmin Forerunner watches simply don’t track it at all, the AUDAR KERi wristband can! This dedication to health data makes the KERi invaluable to those looking for blood data for personal reference, with measurements taken automatically at set intervals.
The best watch for blood pressure is the AUDAR KERi as one of the only smart watch that measures blood pressure independently. The device can give routine readings or manual ones, a huge bonus for the price point which is far less than common brands mentioned here like fitbit or Apple.
3. Blood Oxygen Monitoring
Blood oxygen levelsare another less common measurement. An important metric when calculating long-term health or exercise outcomes, blood oxygen should be featured on sports watches. Look out for these features when getting a sports or adventure watch.
Blood oxygen is easy to understand as humans operate with over 95% oxygenated blood! So, keeping a simple measurement and checking that you’re over 95% is an easy way to regulate your own healthcare.
4. Dedicated Sports Modes / Calorie Tracking
For the more intense workouts and hikes, smart watches can provide more detailed data. If you are going to need specific data on a certain running route, workout routine or even your commute then a sport mode is vital when looking at the features of a smart health watch.
Dedicated sport modes allow you to track distance ran, calories burnt, steps taken and more. Pair this with a manual measurement of ECG before and after the workout, with the regular Blood pressure and BPM readings in between and you can build up a clear picture of what your exercise routine is really doing for you.
5. Sleep Tracking
After a day of exercise measurement and health tracking, the best fitness watch shouldn’t have to leave your wrist. Wristband designs like the AUDAR EMBi are well-suited to sleeping as they have a thinner frame compared to something like the previously mentioned Garmin range.
The tracker itself measures total number of hours slept, meaning you don’t have to rely on hazy, half-asleep memory to work out how well you slept through the night. Even data that simple can help uncover hidden discrepancies in your sleep, and explain why you might feel tired one day despite thinking you slept well.
More advanced tracking as seen in the AUDAR E1 allows you to view a breakdown of not only hours slept, but how many hours and minutes were light sleep, deep sleep, or periods of being awake.
6. Bonus Feature: Push Notifications
All smart watches on the market use a phone connection in some shape or form, with only the AUDAR range pushing innovation to try and separate health from phones. This would make digital healthcare more accessible and cheaper, without forcing anyone to have a certain phone for it to work!
But, while the vast majority are paired to smartphones, it is worth looking for the push notifications feature in smart health watches. This feature allows you to receive notifications about calls, texts, alarms, reminders, stopwatches and more straight through your wristband or watch.
While not strictly related to the health and fitness tracking, it is a handy feature and one worth remembering if using the watch in a professional environment.
The Best Smart Health Watch 2023
Looking at all these features of a smart health watch, it becomes clear that the best one for you will depend greatly on your use. If you need a blood pressure monitor watch then your options become limited to something like an AUDAR KERi unless you have an entirely separate device just for Blood Pressure.
If, on the other hand, you know you will be using the device mainly for commuting and work then a more traditional watch face like the AUDAR E1 may suit better.
Please Note: All information provided by any and all health watches from any brand is to be used for personal reference only, and does not constitute prescribed medical advice