In this series, we will present some of the most exciting IoT products launched or in development. Let this inspire you on how the Internet of Things can benefit your own business.
Your smart watch can warn you about an upcoming stroke
Connected devices are entering markets all over the world. By connecting smart devices to cloud-based services, valuable new possibilities arise. Within the medical sector, this can even save lives. The Apple Watch includes a standard health and fitness tool for monitoring the wearer’s heart rate in beats per minute (BPM). This allows users to see what their current heart rate is. For example during exercise, to help them maximize their work out. One thing missing from the standard Apple solution, is the ability to give accurate measurements of heart rhythm. Such information could detect symptoms of imminent heart failure, and consequently be used to suggest immediate treatment. American company AliveCor want to make this come true.
AliveCor is a privately owned company founded by Dr. David Albert and Dr. Leslie Saxon, USC professor and founder of the USC Center for Body Computing. They focus on creating innovative solutions that combine heart health monitoring and mobile applications. By letting private consumers connect heart monitoring sensors to their smart watch or smart phone, they can record accurate heart measurements and send them directly to medical personnel.
The AliveCor Kardia Band is a medical grade electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) band for the Apple Watch.
To target the growing market of Apple Watch owners, Kardia Band will complement their existing product, AliveCor Kardia Mobile. It works in a similar way to a normal ECG machine, except the sensors are inside the wristband instead of stuck to the chest.
When wearing the band, the user can quickly record a medical-grade ECG in just 30 seconds and instantly discover if atrial fibrillation (AF) is detected. AF is an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. The ECG data can then be sent to a doctor to use in diagnostics and treatment plans.
As an additional feature, the user will be able to add voice notes to record any symptoms they feel, like shortness of breath, or indicate that they are in special situations like eating or exercising. By comparing the ECG with the voice notes, doctors will get a more complete picture of their patient’s condition. This will help diagnose the causes more accurately. Everything integrates with the Apple Health app and Google Fit, for personal heart health insights.
Heart monitoring is normally done in one of two ways. A single snapshot can be taken while the patient is in the doctor’s office. If the heart rhythm only varies occasionally, this may not show anything wrong. For a more accurate measure over several hours, the patient has to wear a Holter Monitor. Holter monitors record heartbeat signals from multiple sensors attached to different parts of the patient’s chest. The signals are sent to a device that captures all the data. Monitoring the heart over 24 or 48 hours gives a more complete picture of what is going on with the patient’s heart as they go about their daily life. The main problem with this is that the machines are expensive and intrusive.
The AliveCor Kardia Band uses a dual-electrode ECG monitor embedded into the wrist band of the Apple Watch. The user can record an ECG on-demand simply by pressing on the wristband if, for example, the heart starts beating fast or they're not feeling well. The band communicates via the microphone of the Apple Watch using ultrasonic signals instead of wireless, which saves power. In addition, this facilitates the voice note feature - the user can talk to the watch and record voice notes directly to their ECG graph providing context to the measurements. The app can send the annotated ECG readings directly to a doctor or technician for interpretation.
Heart disease is one of the major health risks in industrialized countries. As hospitals are getting more crowded, patients are put at risk of critical heart failures while waiting for treatment.
People often feel something is not right with their health, but they ignore the symptoms and postpone the visit to the doctor’s office, sometimes for years. When it comes to heart disease, immediate treatment is vitally important to avoid the risk of sudden death.
By releasing their product to the consumer market, AliveCor is able to attract both patients that are currently living with a known heart condition and those who prefer to do monitoring at home before they decide if they should consult a doctor for closer examination.
This is a great example of how the Internet of Things (IoT) can change the world in a positive way, solving serious problems and even saving lives.
How to get it
Assuming that the product gets all the necessary FDA approvals, AliveCor will launch their Kardia Band in 2016. Cost will be in the region of $200.