On September 10th, Apple announced a new app for their watches that allow pregnant women to keep doctors informed with up-to-date information on their baby’s health. Medical Daily reports that Apple’s watch heart monitor lets pregnant women record and hear their babies’ heart rate in real time.
The new app is called AirStrip and has the ability to gather all the information that is collected during a Non-Stress Test (NST) at a hospital. However, NSTs are hard to read because sometimes medical professionals can’t differentiate the mother’s heartbeat from the baby’s, which is why the test is often conducted multiple times. Remarkably, Apple’s new app solves this problem.
Additionally, AirStrip can track the strength and frequency of contractions during labor. The co-founder of AirStrip, Dr. Cameron Powell, called the new Apple Watch version of the app a “game changer for healthcare” at an event in San Francisco. He explained that the technology is possible because of AirStrip’s sub-app called Sense4Baby, which connects with sensors pregnant women place on their abdomen.
Doctors have already used AirStrip at hospitals but will now be able to monitor women’s pregnancies from home. Dr. Powell said, “It can distinguish between a mother’s heart rate from her baby’s, which has been “a problem for many years with home monitoring.”
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Airstrip, an integrated fetal monitoring app announced by Apple at today’s event, can comfortably gather all the information for an NST, even at home, and transmit all its data wirelessly to your Apple Watch. More importantly, it can send all this information to your doctor. But this is not just a UX innovation: Apple’s also partnered with an important medical device to work with it.
The streamlined Sense4Baby monitor, which Airstrip acquired in April, looks like a comfy battery-powered band to replace a complicated array of wands, sensors, and stickers. And thanks to the excellent heartbeat tracker in the Apple Watch, supposedly it can work with the monitor to tell mom’s and baby’s heartbeat apart.
Let’s hope this is financially feasible for hospitals, doctors, and midwives to use—and it’s not just women who can afford an Apple Watch. While I don’t think there’s too much value in sitting around at home checking your unborn baby’s heartbeat unless your doctor needs that information (in fact, many doctors will recommend you not become obsessed with tracking your baby’s heartbeat at home), I can see this being immensely helpful in developing countries with unreliable or nonexistent power. It will almost certainly help deliver healthier babies. And of course, hopefully you don’t need an Apple Watch to view the data—let’s hope it will track just as easily on a phone or tablet.