The Apple Watch project might gain a competitor — U of Kansas Medical Center to detect atrial fibrillation using Garmin's wearables

The University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City entered into a research collaboration with Garmin International to study whether the technology company's wearable devices are able to detect various medical conditions, Garmin announced May 1.

The collaboration's initial research will consider whether sensor data collected from Garmin's devices can help patients detect and manage sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation.

Garmin joins a cohort of wearables developers pivoting from the fitness segment to the medical market, including Apple and Fitbit.

In late 2017, Apple launched a heart study with Stanford (Calif.) University School of Medicine, using the Apple Watch's sensor to collect data on patients' heart rhythms to notify those who may be experiencing atrial fibrillation. Fitbit, which has built out its sleep functions in recent years, discussed plans to enter the sleep apnea market with CNBC in June 2017.

For the atrial fibrillation project, researchers with Garmin Health worked with Y. Madhu Reddy, MD — division director of heart rhythm services in the cardiovascular medicine department at University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City and an associate professor of medicine at KU Medical Center — to develop algorithms to detect and monitor the condition.

"Wearable technology capable of early detection and monitoring of heart rhythm disorders will be a revolutionary boon to cardiac care," Dr. Reddy said in a May 1 statement.

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