Product teardowns, where a piece of hardware is disassembled to reveal its components can unearth some hidden treasures. iFixit has finished its dissection of the Apple Watch and discovered the heart rate monitor happens to be a plethysmograph – a device that can also measure blood oxygen levels like a pulse oximeter.
For most of us an oximeter is not a particularly necessary tool. But in many circumstances, knowing the oxygen level in your blood is an important health metric.
Why would Apple include the oximeter but disable it? Our assumption is including this sort of functionality required a level of regulatory approval Apple didn’t have time to carry out before the release. Perhaps they were able to negotiate a better deal for that part than regular heart rate monitor.
We’re not sure if the component can be renew led via a software update but if it is it points to an interesting update once appropriate regulatory approvals are in place.