Many new health tech devices employ new or unconventional sensor technologies to track biometrics. Validating a new measurement device against the current gold standard for the given metric is health tech grail. We’ve written about a range of blood pressure reading technology that tries to get close to the reliability of the standard upper arm inflatable cuff measurements. Companies are developing devices that use optical sensors, pressure sensors, and single lead ECG electrodes either separately or in combination. Valencell’s optical sensor and MSU’s combination of optical and pressure sensors on a smartphone case have both drawn our attention. Everyone agrees upper arm cuff tests are awkward. Even the smaller wrist-worn pressure cuffs are best for at home use and are not optimal for people who need continuous blood pressure monitoring.
This year at CES 2018 Omron Healthcare gave attendees an early look at HeartGuide, the company’s smartwatch built around an oscillometric (inflating) blood pressure monitor. Omron is quite likely the brand name on the electronic cuff-style blood pressure measurement devices your doctor uses. Omron is also a major vendor in consumer electronic blood pressure devices, with various upper arm and wrist cuff devices. So now Omron is coming out with its own wearable using the gold standard technology, only smaller. HeartGuide will come in small, medium, and large sizes for accuracy, fit, and comfort, but it will still be bulkier than other smartwatches. That’s because the watch will self-inflate. According to the company, Omron has filed more than 50 technology patents including blood pressure component miniaturization in designing the first wearable oscillometric wrist blood pressure monitor. The watch also will measure daily activity, heart rate, and sleep quality, and will be able to be set to read blood pressure while the user is sleeping (so long as they are wearing the watch). According to Omron, the watch band uses a flexible synthetic material that is five times stronger than steel; this allows it to inflate without losing its shape. HeartGuide will also sync with Omron’s Connect app to store, track, and share data with healthcare professionals.
No tech before its time. Omron said at CES HeartGuide will not be available on the retail market until its accuracy is clinically validated and FDA cleared, which it expects to achieve near the end of 2018. The price will be announced at launch.