As the wearables craze starts to go mainstream, one company is betting that medical devices deserve to be at the party.
Already a maker of a range of connected mobile health care devices, iHealth is taking the next step and banking that it can win federal approval for its new set of wearable products: an ambulatory blood pressure monitor, a wireless ambulatory electrocardiogram, and a wearable pulse oximeter.
Ambulatory blood pressure monitor
The company said its ambulatory blood pressure monitor is an industry first. The monitor connects to a user's mobile devices via Bluetooth, or to a PC via USB, and is meant to be worn inside a vest. The idea is that it offers round-the-clock monitoring without requiring a user change anything about their lifestyle or routine. Users can choose how often it delivers blood pressure readings, with an option of 15-, 30-, 45-, 60-, or 120-minute intervals.
What iHealth wants is for patients to see the benefit of being able to give that kind of regularly-gathered information to their doctors, particularly because the data will show changes in blood pressure over the course of a day. This is key for understanding potential cases of nocturnal hypertension, "white-coat" hypertension, or resistant hypertension when medications are ineffective at controlling high blood pressure, iHealth said.
The ambulatory blood pressure monitor works with both iOS and Android devices, and can hold up to 200 data points. It has a rechargeable battery.
Wireless ambulatory ECG
Those who need to wear an ambulatory electrocardiogram could now have a wireless option, thanks to iHealth. The company's new device features built-in electrodes and a monitor that were ergonomically designed to be lightweight and fit under normal clothing, and to attach directly to a user's chest. The data gathered by the device is delivered wirelessly to the user's mobile phone, which then automatically sends it to the cloud. That makes it easy for doctors to access the data.
The device is compatible with iOS devices and uses Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (LE) to transfer data. It uses USB to transfer data to a PC. It has a rechargeable battery, and can store as much as 72 hours of data.
Wearable Pulse Oximeter
Finally, iHealth plans on releasing a new wearable pulse oximeter that can continuously monitor blood oxygen saturation and pulse rate. Built around a fingertip sensor that connects to a wristband, the device is meant to measure blood oxygen saturation during normal daily activity, or at night. The device can be helpful, iHealth says, for detecting obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and sleep apnea.
The pulse oximeter can store as much as 1,000 hours of data, and connects wirelessly to iOS and Android devices via Bluetooth 4.0 LE.
All three devices are compatible with iHealth's mobile app, which displays the relevant data and automatically sends it to the cloud, allowing it to be managed and shared as desired.
For now, it's not clear when the devices will hit the market. The company is waiting for federal approval of each device. But it says that it hopes each device will be available in the second half of 2014. Pricing has yet to be announced.