How Do Smartwatches Work?

Smart this, smart that. It’s like every device in your life claims to be ‘smart,’ even watches! A few years ago, the idea of having a smartwatch sounded obnoxious; what can be smart about time telling? I mean, that’s all that watches do, right? Actually, wrong.

Smartwatches can do much more than telling you the date and time. They’re considered the first step into a healthy life. You must be wondering: “how do smartwatches work?” and “how can a simple watch improve your health?” Well, luckily for you, that’s exactly what I’ll be discussing throughout this article, so stick around!

What’s So Smart About a Watch?

Smartwatches offer features beyond telling time. They’re ‘smart’ because they run on an OS, meaning they offer functionalities close to smartphones.

Before asking: “what is a smartwatch?” you should start by asking: “what’s a smartphone?” Then, you’ll find yourself on the right path for the answer.

First of all, smartwatches have a responsive display that you can use to navigate through different apps and modes.

But that’s not all; most smartwatches require a smartphone to function properly. They mostly use a phone application to send and receive data. Smartwatches that display notifications and calls need to be connected to your phone via Bluetooth at all times in order to do so.

How Does Fitness Tracking Work?

Smartwatches are known for their fitness tracking capabilities, which is why they’re almost always worn by athletes. So, how exactly do they do that?

Heart Rate Monitoring

If you take a look at the back of a smartwatch, you’ll notice a pulsing green light; that’s how smartwatches monitor heart rate. That green light is absorbed by your blood, allowing the watch to measure your BPM.

By keeping track of your average BPM, the watch can tell when it’s higher than usual, which might indicate that you’re exercising. On the other hand, if your heart rate slows down, the watch can tell that you’re sleeping.

GPS Tracking

We’ve been using GPS for years now. Your car has GPS that you can use for navigation, which is incredibly useful. Well, how does that come into play in a watch?

Simply, smartwatches use GPS to track your movements—not in a creepy way, though. They measure how much you’re walking or running and how fast you’re moving. After that, by simple calculations, they display how many calories you’re burning. Such a feature is exceptionally beneficial for runners or joggers who need to watch their calorie count on a daily basis.

Additionally, if you walk uneven roads a lot, smartwatches have got you covered. With built-in sensors, a smartwatch can tell if you’re not walking horizontally. It even knows if you’re climbing stairs!

Blood Pressure Measuring

Yes, smartwatches have developed enough to measure blood pressure without the need for a bulky separate device. Knowing your blood pressure is life-saving, to say the least.

If you or someone you know is feeling unwell, you can do a quick check of their blood pressure and BPM, and you’ll know instantly if you need urgent help.

What Else Can Smartwatches Do?

Who said smartwatches are limited to fitness enthusiasts? Everyone can use them for many functionalities they offer. Here are the most prominent ones that can easily make a difference in your daily routine.

Displaying Notifications

Display Notifications watch

When your watch is connected to your phone, you can choose which applications’ notifications will be displayed on your wrist. If you don’t like distractions or taking your phone out every time it beeps and find it time-consuming, you’ll love this feature.

Besides, some watches have built-in speakers and mics. You may be wondering: “what would I do with a microphone in my watch?” Well, you can use it to answer incoming calls, or use voice-activated assistants, like Siri or Cortana. It’s like having complete access to your phone from your wrist, and it’s all done via Bluetooth.

Sleep Tracking

I’ve already touched on this when speaking about heart rate monitoring, but allow me to go more into the details of how sleep tracking works.

Besides measuring BPM, smartwatches also have motion sensors that can tell if you’re moving. When combining all these measurements, your watch can tell how much you’re sleeping and how much of it is REM sleep.

As you may have already guessed, smartwatches are not the most accurate way of tracking sleep, but it’s just enough to give you an idea of how you sleep. An indication is better than nothing, right?

Detecting Accidents and Falls

Remember those unique sensors we were talking about? Well, smartwatches use those to detect if you’ve fallen or involved in an incident. Some of them also measure your BPM or blood pressure to tell if you’ve passed out then proceed to call emergency services.


Now that you’re familiar with what smartwatches can do, you have a good idea of how they work. Using multiple sensors and built-in chips, smartwatches can measure your heart rate, blood pressure, and the number of steps you take during the day. 

Not only that, but they also feature sensors that can tell if you’re walking with elevation (like climbing up or down stairs), or even if you’re walking a sloped path.

It’s also worth emphasizing that smartwatches are not limited to fitness tracking; they offer other functionalities that are beneficial for anyone! For example, they can give you a general idea of how long you’re sleeping and provide you with details on your sleep quality.

Lastly, and most importantly, your smartwatch can save your life with its accident detectors. It can call emergency services or a trusted contact to rescue you if you’re ever in danger.

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