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Fitbit wants to shine a light on sleep apnea

The wearables company is developing a device to help you detect if you’re not getting enough air while you sleep.


Fitbit currently uses infrared light to track heart rate, but it says future devices will be able to measure oxygen levels.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Fitbit is expanding its repertoire. The company known for motivating you to exercise with wearables that monitor your steps is now working on a device that will monitor your sleep and potentially detect if you have sleep apnea, CNBC reports.

Fitbit says the project will track your blood oxygen level throughout the night to help spot irregularities. Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes people to periodically stop breathing or take shallower breaths. Eighteen million American adults suffer from sleep apnea, and many don't realize they have it. Unchecked, it can cause additional health problems.

By shining a light into your skin, Fitbit's device will be able to detect the color of your blood -- bright red when oxygenated, bluer with less oxygen. It will then track these levels and can help you determine if you should see a doctor. If you're already receiving treatment, Fitbit's device might help you determine how well it's working.

The goal is supposedly to bring this device to the market within a year, and prototypes are currently being tested in sleep labs. 

Fitbit confirmed CNBC's story to CNET, but did not offer further comment. 

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