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Fitbit’s new Sense smartwatch can take your skin’s temperature to help you manage stress

Fitbit’s new Sense smartwatch can take your skin’s temperature to help you manage stress


It also has EKG capability, though it’s pending approval by the FDA

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Fitbit Sense
The Sense can perform an electrocardiogram (ECG), but it’s pending approval by the FDA. To use it, you’ll touch and hold your pointer finger and thumb on the bottom-left and top-right bezels surrounding the screen.

Fitbit has debuted two new smartwatches, the Sense and the Versa 3. The $329 Sense is the flagship option and is the most capable Fitbit wearable yet. The Versa 3 succeeds the Versa 2 and will cost $229. Preorders for both watches begin today through Fitbit’s site, and they’ll release in the US in late September.

Though the two new watches look similar, the Sense has a few more advanced health tracking features, such as detailed heart rate scans with atrial fibrillation (afib) detection via the electrocardiogram (EKG) app built into the watch (still pending FDA approval). In that way, it’s on par with Apple’s and Samsung’s recent smartwatches (though, Samsung’s EKG capability in the Galaxy Watch 3 isn’t available in the US yet).

Where the Sense stands out is with its stress detection features, which it’s pitching as something that’s crucially needed — especially in today’s increasingly stressful world. To take a reading, you hold your palm over the screen and start to breath. The Sense will measure your heart rate, and uniquely, your skin’s temperature will be collected with its electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor. If your skin feels hot, chilled, or clammy, the Sense might be able to make sense of why it’s happening over time. Fitbit’s app will score you on your stress level, with a higher score being better than a lower one.

Fitbit Sense
Both the Sense (shown in the picture) and the Versa 3 feature a new strap mechanism that makes them easier to swap out.
Image: Fitbit

The EKG and EDA functions aside, Fitbit’s Sense and Versa 3 share many of the same smartwatch features. They both have built-in GPS, OLED touchscreens, water resistance up to 50 meters, at least six days of battery life, and a new snap-on magnetic charging mechanism. Both also support Fitbit Pay for contactless payments, and with your Android phone kept nearby, you’ll be able to respond to texts and answer calls with either smartwatch via their built-in microphones and speakers.

If you’re looking at the less expensive Versa 3, it’s worth noting that it seems to address a few pain points of the Versa 2. Fitbit has simplified its strap mechanisms to detach when you push a button on the back of the device. Along with Alexa support for voice queries, Fitbit is adding Google Assistant to the mix, though it won’t arrive until winter 2020. Voice assistants weren’t particularly handy or elegant to use with the previous-generation Versa, since there wasn’t a built-in speaker to play their voices through. This new model remedies that with a speaker that can do that. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, you can take voice calls through the Versa 3 when your Android phone is near.

Fitbit Inspire 2
The Inspire 2 features a new touch-sensitive panel in place of its predecessor’s button-based navigation.
Image: Fitbit

The last of Fitbit’s announcements is the $99 Inspire 2 fitness tracker. It’s comparatively basic to the above two devices, though this new iteration features a refined design with a touch panel in place of the Inspire HR’s side button. It also touts a 10-day battery life — twice as long as the prior model — and notably, it comes with a full year of Fitbit Premium with purchase. The other two devices detailed above include six-month trials of Fitbit Premium.

It’s hard to say if it’s worth upgrading if you already own the first-generation Inspire, but $99 seems like a good price for a discreet, water-resistant device that can track your activity and sleep, monitor your heart rate, and push your phone’s notifications to your wrist.

Correction: This article incorrectly stated that Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 3 hadn’t gotten FDA clearance for its EKG feature.