Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 – Body Composition Rumors Raise Concern

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The Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 could contain a health sensor that can change the way we understand our bodies, if a premature Amazon listing for Samsung’s next smartwatch included precise specifications.

In the “special feature” section of the since-deleted Galaxy Watch 4 online product page, we see several familiar benefits such as sleep tracking, blood oxygen (SpO2) reading, and rate monitoring. cardiac. But this smartwatch, which could cost around $ 275 if the price tag is accurately translated, also offers a “body composition analysis.” Such a feature has been the subject of rumors in recent weeks.

Galaxy Watch 4

This Galaxy Watch 4 listing on the Amazon Canada website has since been removed, but you can see “body composition analysis” listed up to the special features section. (Image credit: Avenir)

Samsung is probably waiting for an impending Unpacked event, supposed to take place on August 11, to reveal how body composition analysis works on the Galaxy Watch 4. But as Amazon’s listing has apparently confirmed its arrival, we can guess the health data it will provide. We can also begin to address the potential concerns that arise from it.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: How Could Body Composition Analysis Work?

Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) uses a small electrical current to determine body composition. On the best smart scales, body composition data can include body fat percentage, body mass index (BMI), muscle mass, bone mass, body water percentage and more.

According to a Review of scientific reports released earlier this year, scale-based and wrist-based BIA readings differ in that the former is preferred for estimating subcutaneous (under the skin) fat, while the latter can better estimate visceral and abdominal fat. .

For wrist body composition analysis to work, the smartwatch would require “some type of bioimpedance analysis system,” said Dr. Steven Heymsfield, professor and director of the Pennington Body Composition and Metabolism Laboratory. Biomedical Research Center.

“Prototypes like these appeared many years ago in various forms,” ​​said Dr Heymsfield, confirming that such a tool is possible for a smartwatch.

The journal Scientific Reports also highlights how portable BIA sensors pose a problem with accuracy: the smaller the BIA sensor, “the greater the error in impedance measurement.” The researchers found that the electrodes needed to determine things like body fat percentage “can be fitted to small devices.”

Samsung has even obtained a patent for this type of adaptation. Apple obviously pointed out in 2019, discovering a “wrist-wearable body composition device” that requires one or two fingers pressed against sensors.

In the diagrams, it appears that the sensors exist on or under the strap of the device. Since we expect the Galaxy Watch 4’s straps to be interchangeable, we think Samsung has adjusted its approach. The sensor is most likely built into the base of the watch, although users may need to hold a finger on the side of the chassis or against a button on the crown for a scan to start.

Still, said Dr Heymsfield, “one would have to check the accuracy against a reference method.”

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: Potential Body Composition Problems

Dr Heymsfield explains why people who manage their weight responsibly would want to understand how their body composition is changing.

“How much fat and how much muscle?” Dr. Heymsfield said. “People are interested in these kinds of questions.

But, again, accuracy is a concern. And not just for the credibility of the Galaxy Watch 4 and those watching their health goals – in my Amazon Halo review, I expressed hesitation about how unbridled access to body fat percentage readings can perpetuate dysmorphia. bodily and bodily disorders, especially when what you might look like with a higher or lower reading.

Even without visualizations, incorrect reading could also skew your understanding of your body. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 1 in 50 people in the United States are affected by body dysmorphia, while ANAD reports that at least 9% of people worldwide are affected by disorders of the body. ‘food.

That’s a sizable population of people who might be doing a disservice with a body composition smartwatch if not directed correctly.

While home body fat readings are an exceptional feat in health technology, the warnings are more than necessary. Fortunately, only users 18 or older can use the Halo group’s body scan feature. I wouldn’t be surprised if Samsung would follow their lead and impose an age requirement for body composition analysis.

Samsung Galaxy Watch 4: Outlook for Body Composition Analysis

Despite a healthy dose of cynicism, the addition of a body composition analysis could turn an already popular smartwatch into a must-have health tool. The Apple Watch 7 doesn’t seem to be destined for a new wellness sensor, giving the Galaxy Watch 4 a head start on the reigning best smartwatch.

All eyes will be on Samsung when it unveils what is shaping up to be a follow-up to Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2. Let’s just hope the company is ready to address body composition analysis issues and demonstrate how the functionality will be implemented responsibly.


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