AliveCor ECG watchband

There’s a saying among photography enthusiasts: “The best camera is the one you have with you.” The point is that it doesn’t matter how wonderful a camera you might have if it’s bag home in its carrying bag. In many ways, the same holds true about mobile health devices. Within limitations, a device that you have with you is more valuable and useful than some more complex device that’s stashed away in some hospital.

That’s the concept behind the Kardia products be AliveCor. We’ve written before about the company’s smartphone case that gives you readings equivalent to a clinical-grade ECG. The company is now bringing its FDA-cleared technology to a replacement band for the Apple Watch. If you want to take a reading of your heartbeat, simply start the app (which you can do from the watch) and press a finger on the metal patch on the side of the band. This completes a circuit (from one arm to the other) so that your heartbeat activity can be measured. While the reading is being recorded, you can also record a voice memo describing any symptoms you may be experiencing, or any other factors worth noting (such as drinking twice as much coffee as usual). If the app determines any abnormalities in your readings, it will alert you. You can even choose to send your data to your doctor. The band is expected to ship later this year; you can sign up on the company’s website to be notified when it’s ready.

Intermittent symptoms can be difficult to “catch” and document, which is why it can be so helpful to have an ECG sensor available. If you have occasional irregular heartbeats, you don’t have to rely on the chance that it will happen when you’re at the doctor’s office. A system like this that can make it easy to record a simple ECG can help people determine whether or not they have a problem that requires treatment.