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This New Apple Watch Accessory Could Save Lives

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Chances are, you've complained about your fitness tracker's heart rate monitor because you know you burned more than 20 calories in that intense kettlebell class. You're probably right, and here's some good news: A new, game-changing Apple Watch accessory should be way more legit at tracking heart rate. But there's a catch: It's a medical-grade electrocardiogram (EKG), and it's for people who really need it to keep close track of their heart health (not for your Spin class enjoyment). Still, technology that helps save lives? We're all for it.

The company behind it, AliveCor, builds heart-rate monitoring smartphone accessories and is planning to get Kardia Band, a nickel-sized sensor that pops into the watch band, approved by the Food and Drug Administration—which no other wearable devices have done yet.

"AliveCor sits on the other side of the FDA line," AliveCor CEO Vic Gundotra told Re/code. "We are not a fitness product. This is not a toy. We're talking about people's lives."

The sensor is heavy-duty: Simply by holding the band for 30 seconds, users will know if their heart rhythm is normal or has an atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat) and can relay the information to their doctors for analysis. This is huge for people with pacemakers or heart conditions, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute—it will allow them to track their heart rate without using the heavy, $$$ devices already on the market.

Because AliveCor is still waiting on FDA approval for the band sensor, they don't have a release date or price yet. In the meantime, you can buy their mobile attachment plate EKG (which does have government approval) for $99, and stay tuned for the sale of the Kardia Band.

And if you're still fighting with the inaccuracy of your tracker's heart rate monitor (for fitness purposes)? Try one of these newer, cuter models.


Lauren Mazzo

Lauren Mazzo is a digital assistant editor for Shape and Fitness. She's an Ithaca College alumna, a Rochester, NY, native and an NYC transplant.  More →

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