A feature seen in a number of imported fitness trackers, blood oxygen monitoring, is now available on the Garmin Vivosmart 4. The latest Garmin Fenix also has the ability to monitor blood oxygen with an included pulse oxygen sensor but more for the purpose of hiking in higher altitudes. With the Vivosmart 4, blood oxygen will be tested more frequently and more importantly during sleep. This is important for possibly detecting sleep apnea.
The latest Fitbit devices also have this capability built-in but the feature hasn’t been “turned on” yet as Fitbit appears to be awaiting FDA approval since this feature could possibly detect a medical condition. Once you move out of “simple” fitness tracking, which isn’t regulated by the FDA, and move into detecting medical conditions, FDA approval is required.
Garmin has gotten around this by not claiming to detect or diagnose sleep apnea but rather just provide the blood oxygen data and then the user can show the data to their physician if they choose to.
This is a turning point for fitness trackers as they inevitably will be able to detect and monitor more medical conditions in the future.
Other than that the Vivosmart 4 has introduced what Garmin is calling Body Battery™ which will let a user know when their body is “charged” enough for a workout and when they should rest.
This isn’t anything new per se, as recovery hours are a feature of the Garmin Fenix and other devices. But it is an easier way for people to gauge the best time for a workout in an individualized manner.
Body Battery uses data from stress levels detected, HRV (heart rate variability), sleep and activity levels to determine optimal times to workout.
Sleep monitoring has also been improved. This is an improvement Garmin rolled out a few months ago to many of their other fitness trackers in a software update. Deep sleep, light sleep, and REM sleep is now detected to give a better picture of sleep quality.
Alerts for abnormal heart rates are now available. I don’t think I’ve seen this on other Garmin devices yet.
Other features of the Vivoactive 4 include notifications with preset quick replies for Android users, music controls, and weather.
The design of the band hasn’t changed much and will be available in a variety of different colors. It will retail for $129.99 and will be available in a few weeks.
This is a busy time of the year as many of the leading fitness tracker makers are rolling out their new devices ahead of the holiday shopping season. The Fitbit Charge 3 will soon be released and in a couple weeks the Apple Watch 4 will be introduced.