Skip to Content

This seizure-spotting smart watch has won FDA approval

February 5, 2018

Startup Empatica says its Embrace smart watch is now approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as a medical device—a rare designation for a wearable.

Winning approval: The $249 watch detects when a wearer is having a convulsive seizure and lets family members know via a smartphone app. In a 135-patient trial as part of the FDA approval, epilepsy patients suffered 40 seizures, and the watch’s algorithm spotted them all.

Why it matters: There are 3.4 million people in the US with epilepsy. Worldwide, the figure is roughly 50 million. Keeping track of when seizures happen can help get patients medical attention and aid doctors in monitoring their condition over time. 

What it means for wearables: The approval allows the firm to make medical claims about the device, and could enable people with epilepsy to have insurance pay for it. It may also encourage doctors and hospitals to use such devices, says Rosalind Picard, Empatica’s cofounder and chief scientist.

Deep Dive


What happened to the microfinance organization Kiva?

A group of strikers argue that the organization seems more focused on making money than creating change. Are they right?

Worldcoin just officially launched. Here’s why it’s already being investigated.

The project is backed by some of tech's biggest stars, but four countries are probing its privacy practices.

Google has a new tool to outsmart authoritarian internet censorship

Its Outline VPN can now be built directly into apps—making it harder for governments to block internet access, particularly during protests.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.