Apple may not be allowed to sell you an Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch Ultra 2 with blood oxygen monitoring anymore, but that doesn’t mean other options aren’t available. In fact, Masimo, the company that sued Apple over patent infringement, has its own blood oxygen monitoring smartwatch on the way.
Masimo is normally a medical tech company, but it looks like there may be a pivot towards consumer-friendly gadgets. It’s not the first time the company has produced a wearable, but the Masimo W1 that launched last year was maybe a little too health-centric. This time the company seems to be trying to pull in a more generalized smartwatch crowd.
That means the Masimo Freedom comes with a smart design and features like notifications. But, unsurprisingly, this is still a health-focussed device.
The Verge got a sneak peak at a prototype version of the Masimo Freedom at CES 2024, noting that the watch is very distinct from Apple’s. There’s a round display with a navigation touchbar on the right-hand side and a small button for selecting objects. No sign of Apple’s trademark Digital Crown or a rotating bezel.
That said, Masimo’s president of consumer health, Eugene Goldberg, told the site that the point of the Freedom smartwatch is to highlight the accuracy of the company’s health-monitoring tech. Goldberg said that its blood oxygen tech is better than those from unnamed competitors because it can account for different factors, like motion, low perfusion, skin pigmentation or bad blood flow.
The Freedom watch will also be able to track your hydration index, respiration rate, pulse rate variability, pulse rate, steps, as well as being able to detect if you’re fallen over. And there are the usual activity and sleep tracking features you’d find on other smartwatches.
The Masimo Freedom can continuously monitor your vitals every second rather than every few minutes, so it could be a good choice for older adults. That way you, or health care professionals, can see exactly when things change or go wrong — rather than a rough estimation.
Of course, this is only a prototype, and the actual Masimo Freedom won’t be on sale until later this year. There’s still a lot that needs doing, as The Verge noted that the actual smartwatch features seemed pretty basic — while Masimo has confirmed that it doesn’t have FDA approval for the health features just yet.
The Masimo Freedom is set to cost a whopping $999, so this is definitely something of a niche product. But if you value being able to track your vitals with even greater accuracy than a random smartwatch, that may be a price you’re willing to pay. The Masimo Freedom is available to reserve on the Masimo website with a $100 deposit right now.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens going forward. Not just with Masimo’s attempts to break into the smartwatch market, but also what happens with its legal battle with Apple. Masimo was successful in having U.S. customs ban the import of Apple Watch 9 and Ultra 2 models. Prompting Apple to remove the feature. But since Apple is appealing the decision, the fight is far from over.
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Jessica Irvine is a tech enthusiast specializing in gadgets. From smart home devices to cutting-edge electronics, Jessica explores the world of consumer tech, offering readers comprehensive reviews, hands-on experiences, and expert insights into the coolest and most innovative gadgets on the market.