Masimo's new privacy-minded smartwatch enters consumer wearable war

Masimo’s first entry in the consumer smartwatch space, the W1, which launched last summer, boasts second-by-second readings of oxygen saturation, pulse rate, respiration rate, hydration index and more. Its second smartwatch, meanwhile, caters to those who may be wary of where exactly those 86,400 measurements go.

The Freedom wearable, which Masimo unveiled Tuesday, features a switch on the side that, when flipped, immediately stops the smartwatch from sharing any data beyond the physical device—including not just the wearer’s health information, but also all microphone, location and other routine tracking data collected by the watch.

“We are allowing people to take control of their health with continuous and accurate actionable biosensing information along with the convenience of being connected, but without compromising their freedom,” Masimo CEO Joe Kiani said in Tuesday’s announcement.

Masimo Freedom smartwatch

Like the W1 before it, the Freedom device continuously monitors a wearer’s heart, pulse and respiration rates as well as their hydration levels and arterial blood oxygen saturation—the latter of which is currently the subject of a patent fight between Masimo and Apple, as the tech giant also wars with AliveCor over their respective wearables’ embedded electrocardiogram technologies. Masimo’s Freedom watch can also perform ECGs, while also detecting falls and, of course, tracking the wearer’s step count.

When the wearable’s data privacy switch is turned off, it automatically sends all of those round-the-clock readings to the connected Masimo Health smartphone app via Bluetooth. Within the app, users can keep an eye on both their real-time readings and longer-term trends in their health data.

Additionally, alongside the launch of the W1 device last year, Masimo began rolling out a new subscription service called Personal SafetyNet, which compiles the device-collected data into comprehensive reports that can then be shared with family members, health and wellness coaches and healthcare providers.

Beyond those health-focused features, like other consumer wearables, the Freedom device can also sync with a user’s smartphone to give them access to calling, texting, music and other features on their wrist.

When the Freedom device begins rolling out, buyers will also be able to purchase a separate wristband that doesn’t have a screen but picks up on all the same health measurements and automatically transmits them to the smartwatch. It’s meant to be worn while the Freedom device is charging, allowing for nonstop data collection.

The Freedom rollout isn’t slated to begin until this fall, according to Masimo, which hasn’t shared pricing info for the smartwatch. In the meantime, interested buyers can put down a refundable $100 deposit to preorder the wearable, or they can purchase the $499 W1 device now to automatically qualify for a $400 discount on the Freedom model once it’s available.