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Smartphone health monitor unveiled

Published on 07/03/14 at 10:43am
Wello image
The Wello contained in smartphone covers comes with sensors as highlighted above where users connect

A health monitoring device which is embedded into a mobile phone cover and can measure heart rate, blood pressure and lung function, has been launched.

Developed by San Francisco-based technology firm Azoi, the Wello device costs £120 and fits onto a smartphone. Users can hold it in their hands for a few seconds and it then registers a variety of health-related data via its sensors.

Compatible with Android KitKat phones and iOS with BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), it is available as a case for the iPhone and as an insert that can be used with all other phones.

Information from Wello on blood pressure, electrocardiography (ECG), heart rate, blood oxygen and temperature is then synced to the accompanying Android app or iPhone, and can be connected with other health and fitness devices such as pedometers and sleep trackers.

An add-on to the Wello - for an extra cost - will also test lung function, although Azoi is providing the lung-tester attachment free at the moment for those who pre-order the Wello.

Azai says that allowing people to track their vital signs - and thereby see for themselves when something is awry - could “ease the growing burden on healthcare services”.

The company points out that World Health Organisation statistics suggest heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide, hypertension affects nearly a billion people and 347 million people have diabetes.

Its sales pitch is that simple, regular monitoring of health data - such as with Wello - allows people to identify problems and seek advice ‘before they become serious illnesses’. 

“Over the last two years, we have focussed our efforts on coming up with a technologically advanced yet easy-to-use tool to help you monitor health and facilitate better lifestyle choices,” said Hamish Patel, Azoi’s founder and chief executive.

“All too often, health problems go undetected until they are too late to address,” continues Patel. “We believe that through improved self-awareness of key vitals, technology could very easily reduce the incidence and impact of a wide range of illnesses and diseases.”

Aware that Wello could also be misused, the company warns: “It is a tool that arms you with better information. It will record, display, and store your health data, it does not diagnose a condition or prescribe treatment or medication.”

People who buy a Wello at present also get a unique URL which can be shared with friends - each time someone uses the link to buy one of the devices, the original buyer gets a $10 payment.

Many companies are grappling at the moment with advances in technology to find how they could be applied to everyday health issues.

A recently-published Apple patent has shed light on a new health-monitoring device that will be built into a pair of headphones, for example, allowing users to track activity during exercise, as well as sense and record other biometric data like temperature, perspiration and heartbeat.

And Samsung has partnered with a US university to create a digital health innovation laboratory while also unveiling some new health-tracking smartwatches.

Adam Hill

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