Apple is playing it safe when it comes to expanding the health tracking features on the Apple Watch. The two temperature sensors in the Apple Watch Series 8 and Ultra are thus limited to the retrospective estimation of ovulation, where they could do much more. The same goes for stress, according to researchers at the University of Waterloo, Canada.
Study participants received an iPhone 7 with iOS 15 and an Apple Watch Series 6 that integrated the ECG app. For two weeks, they performed an electrocardiogram with the clock six times a day, approximately three hours apart. To complete these data, the guinea pigs also answered a stress questionnaire from an iPhone application developed for the occasion.
The researchers hypothesize that data collected by the Apple Watch’s EKG can be used to predict stress. ” Users would perform a 30-second non-invasive EKG and receive immediate feedback on their stress level “, according to them. In particular, heart rate variability (HRV) has been studied as this metric can actually be used to measure stress levels.
A prediction model was developed using a machine learning algorithm fed with HRV data. This results in stress measures with a ” high degree of precision but the researchers believe that the Apple Watch is able to improve things even more by using 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 effective stress tracker. For now, though, we’ll have to be content with the Mindfulness app and its reminders (unrelated to the user’s condition) to reduce stress. Or go through third-party apps, like Stress Monitor for Watch, to get an idea of his anxiety level.
In this area, Apple is behind the competition. As the page reminds MyHealthyAppleFitbit and Garmin offer “stress scores” with their products, specifically calculated from HRV.