Is it or isn’t it? Don’t be shocked by the image with this article. It isn’t a real ECG and cannot be used for diagnostic purposes. It is intended to be used as a business card for cardiologists. With the onslaught of clever, accurate, ever-lighter, and more compact Health Tech devices, however, the MobilECG business card gives one pause. Of course it’s not real, but it does function to a degree. If Moore’s Law applies here — that computer chips double in performance every 18 months — how many 18-month cycles might it take before the line between the real deal and a credit-card sized device gets blurry?
We recently wrote about Visiomed’s MyECG, a hand-held personal ECG device. There’s a lot more to that device, apparently, but it still is for personal use, not clinical applications. Hungarian firm MobilECG, is developing an open source ECG platform with schematics available on their website. They plan to sell reference devices for $100 to $150 and a set of standard cables for $50. As a marketing promotion, MobileECG is taking orders for what they refer to as a MobilECG toy card ECG in business card format, with an expected price of $29 each, or less.
The “toy” card will have some ECG functionality, according to the vendor. It supposedly measures the P, Q, R, S and T waves of the ECG signal if held properly with fingers on the sensors, as shown in the video above. The schematic for the card is also on their website.
This “toy” device raises a compelling question. How soon will we have hand-held Health Tech devices for personal use that come close to the functionality of traditional electrocardiogram? Of course reading an electrocardiogram requires extensive training, but will we as a market for the Internet of Things start assuming (perhaps prematurely) that hospital-grade technology is coming soon embedded on wallet-sized cards? There’s also a danger that scam products could appear that don’t perform as touted, possibly with disclaimer-laden user manuals. We need to tread carefully in these areas, but the fact that these questions are even raised in the minds of people who see demo products portends significant change on the way.