iHealth Align

If you have a smartphone, you have a powerful computer in your pocket. You can get all sorts of devices that can transform your phone into a stereo music system, a credit card reader, and even a projector. Some of the most intriguing applications, however, are add-on devices for Health Tech applications. For example, iHealth Lab Inc. announced a new product last month that the company claims is the worlds smallest FDA-approved glucose meter. The Align plugs into the headphone jack of an iPhone, and is able to make blood sugar readings for diabetics.

The device uses inexpensive test strips ($12.50 for a vial of 50 strips) that require just a drop of blood (at least 0.7 microliter, which is about one-sixth the size of a mustard seed). The app on the phone automatically records the results, which are automatically save to the cloud and users can give others access to the data, such as caregivers and healthcare workers. Since the processing is handled by the phone, the reader itself sells for just $16.95.

While this is not a wearable device, it points clearly in that direction. As the cost of sensors and wireless transmitters continues to fall, it is easy to foresee a skin patch that provides constant monitoring of blood sugar levels that reports wirelessly to a smartphone. The app could then trigger alerts for the patient — as well as caregivers and medical staff — if the readings fall outside preset boundaries.