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Apple’s Smartwatch Faces Hurdles With Health Sensors

When Apple first unveiled its smartwatch last fall, it hinted that the device could help track people’s health with special built-in sensors. But a variety of technical challenges will likely limit what health measurements can be offered on the watch, to be launched formally on Monday.

The biggest hurdle may be that the wrist isn’t the best place to measure blood pressure and other physiological functions. As a result, aside from heart rate sensors that have long been standard on devices such as the Fitbit, the watch’s most likely health function in the near term will be displaying data from other medical devices that users wear on their bodies, say people in the medical wearable device industry.

Such limits would add to the challenges facing Apple in persuading consumers that they need to buy the watch, the first new product the company has released since the iPad in 2010.

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“I think watches are going to evolve into something that’s going to be for interaction, notifications, storage and connectivity, but not really for biosensors,” Mr. Lamego said.

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“The wrist, even though it’s a very advantageous place in terms of ergonomics, is exceedingly challenging to get any measurements from aside from maybe activity and heart rate,” Mr. Lamego said.