How does Samsung health measure oxygen saturation?

In this guide, we will discuss “How does Samsung health measure oxygen saturation”, what is oxygen saturation, instructions on how to measure oxygen saturation in old and newest Samsung phones. Additionally, we will talk about an ongoing discussion within the scientific community that has indicated how inaccurate smartphone technology is in measuring SpO2 and how they suggest it is not physically possible.

How does Samsung health measure oxygen saturation?

You may be wondering ‘How does Samsung health measure oxygen saturation?’ or how can you check your SpO2 levels directly on your phone without having to use a pulse oximeter. Well, during the pandemic, individuals with COVID-19 show lower oxygen levels because their pulmonary capacity gets reduced since it is categorized as a respiratory virus. This means, measuring your oxygen saturation levels on the go can be very useful.

Subsequently, to measure your oxygen saturation levels using your Samsung device, open the Samsung Health app and if you don’t have it, simply download it through the Play Store. Once you have installed the app, tap on it and look for the ‘stress’ option. If you don’t see it, tap on manage items and there you can add by tapping on the plus sign, tap save.

Next, you will see the stress option displayed on the screen and tap on it, tap on the two-dot menu icon on the top right corner and toggle on the option ‘Measure multiple’. You can now go back to the previous screen and tap on measure. It will ask you to place your finger on the sensor and you can locate it where the flash for the camera is. You will notice as soon as you place your finger that it will light up and will start taking the measurement. 

What is Oxygen saturation?

The SpO2 or Oxygen saturation is a measure of the concentration of oxygen in your blood. Numerous phones have a series of sensors on the back of the phone where they say they can measure blood oxygen with a method called pulse oximetry, which emits and absorbs light waves through blood vessels in your fingertip.

However, Samsung has removed this feature from some of its newer phones, but if your device still has the feature, it can be useful at times. According to Samsung and starting with version 6.5, oxygen saturation or SpO2 measurement will no longer be provided as its own function. Instead, you can measure your oxygen saturation level by measuring your stress, in the stress tracker. You can download your oxygen saturation data by going to settings and downloading personal data.

Instruction on how to measure SpO2 levels in old and new versions

If you have an old Samsung device that has the SpO2 sensor then you may still have the ‘Oxygen saturation’ option. However, as we have mentioned, newer models don’t have this option anymore, instead, it has been added to the ‘Stress’ section.

If you have a newer model, here are the steps on how to measure your SpO2 levels:

Step 1: Launch Samsung Health on your Galaxy device

Step 2: Scroll all the way down to Stress and tap Measure

Step 3: Place your fingertip on the SpO2 sensor and make sure you stay still while you’re taking the measurement

Step 4: Once done, lift your fingertip from the sensor and you can review your data in the resulting My Stress screen

In contrast, if you have an  older model, here are the steps on how to measure your SpO2 levels:

Step 1: Launch Samsung Health on your Galaxy device

Step 2: Scroll to the bottom, tap on Manage items and enable Oxygen saturation if necessary

Step 3: Tap Measure next to Oxygen saturation from the app’s main screen

Step 4: Place your fingertip on the SpO2 sensor and stay still throughout the measurement process

Should I use my phone to check my blood oxygen saturation level?

Pulse oximeters are medical devices that can measure your oxygen levels in the blood, and it is usually measured in medical services or when needed. If you have followed the evolution of the virus worldwide, you may know by now that it is especially aggressive with people who have a weakened immune system and compromised breathing abilities, which makes them have less or lower oxygen concentrations in their blood.

Subsequently, more and more people are trying to find other ways to keep track of their health on their own during these times. Since pulse oximeters are expensive, some people have seen a more affordable solution in getting a smartphone with a SpO2 sensor.

As indicated on androidcentral.com, “For years, phone manufacturers like Samsung and numerous app developers have pitched the idea that you could use your phone to measure heart rate and even blood oxygen data, but as the evidence came in that this was not the most effective solution”. 

However, it is much more frequent these days to see people getting smartwatches with built-in SpO2 monitors to monitor their blood oxygen levels, leaving the smartphones to fade as the primary option for such purposes but, is it truly a good option? Let’s talk about it more in-depth.

Scientific evidence

A study from the University of Oxford states that there is no evidence that any smartphone technology is accurate for the measurement of blood oxygen saturation for clinical use or purposes. Furthermore, it is suggested that it shouldn’t be trusted in the clinical assessment of patients.

Scientists explain that the Oxygen saturation is the fraction of oxygenated haemoglobin relative to the total haemoglobin in the blood, which means oxygenated+deoxygenated. The measurement through pulse oximeters relies on the fact that the two forms of the haemoglobin molecule have light absorption properties which may vary with a wavelength in the visible and infra-red parts of the spectrum. 

Subsequently, as indicated, they conclude that it is not physically possible to measure SpO2 using the current smartphone technology and the current studies that may have been published to raise serious questions about their accuracy.  

Why is this blog about How does Samsung health measure oxygen saturation important?

As we have discussed on ‘How does Samsung health measure Oxygen saturation?’, manufacturers like Samsung, have included in their devices a sensor for SpO2 measurements. However, as we have also discussed, the accuracy of such devices is doubtful and as indicated by the scientific community, there is no current smartphone technology that is able to measure SpO2 levels in a way that is clinically relevant.

However, if you are one of the users of those smartphones, you can still use it but be careful since the results are open to interpretation so should not be taken as a diagnosis or a way to prevent medical conditions. 

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How does Samsung health measure oxygen saturation

How do I check SpO2 on Samsung health?

If you want to check your SpO2 using the Samsung Health app, here are the steps:

Step 1: Launch Samsung Health on your Galaxy device.
Step 2: Scroll all the way down to Stress and tap Measure.
Step 3: Place your fingertip on the SpO2 sensor and make sure you stay still while you’re taking the measurement.

Can I check my oxygen level?

Your smartwatch can measure your blood oxygen level throughout the day if you have configured the settings for background measurements. You can also take several measurements during the day when you need to. For instance, if you have an Apple Watch, open the Blood Oxygen app and measure your blood oxygen level.

Is oxygen saturation on phones accurate?

There is a lot of controversy about how accurate a phone can be when measuring oxygen saturation. According to cebm.net, “The app “measures oxygen saturation within 90-100% with an accuracy of 0-4 RSM compared to a medical-grade oximeter”. … The authors observe that “reliability is low for the camera-based app, even when the two investigators tested the same patient within 1 to 2 min of each other”.

Is Samsung health accurate?

The Samsung Health app is believed to be accurate and serve its purpose. The app is compatible with most android devices but not all the phones will have certain features such as heart rate monitoring or SpO2. 

Can I check my oxygen level on my Samsung phone?

If you want to check your oxygen level on your Samsung phone, open the Samsung Health app and tap manage items. Enable oxygen saturation and go back to the main screen of the app. Tap measure, next to Oxygen saturation and when prompted, place your finger on the sensor which is usually located on the back of your phone. 

References 

Youtube.com

androidcentral.com (How to measure blood oxygen saturation levels with a Samsung phone using Samsung Health)

Androidcentral.com (You probably shouldn’t use your phone to check your blood oxygen saturation level)

Sammobile.com

cebm.net

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