Smartphone Designed specifically for use as Medical Device
Jun 29, 2012 by Cory Schultz
Mobile devices are continuing to improve in power and functionality. Recognizing this, LifeWatch AG, a leading ambulatory health monitoring services company, has released LifeWatch V, which they describe as a ” healthcare” smartphone.
LifeWatch AG is a comprehensive platform of innovative patient technologies and services that help physicians detect and analyze patient health problems and include services such as cardiac monitoring and home sleep tests.
The fully featured healthcare smartphone gives patients and consumers a wide range of embedded medical sensors, wellness-related apps, cloud-based services and 24/7 call center support.
It is being launched on the Android operating system, with no word on iOS support.
According to the press release,
“The state-of-the-art solution offers multiple sophisticated embedded medical miniature sensors, wellness-related applications, cloud-based services and 24/7 call center support. By using the barely visible sensors on the phone’s frame, patients as well as health- and wellbeing conscious consumers can track, capture, collect and analyze their health and medical measurements anywhere anytime. The features include ECG, body temperature, blood glucose, heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, body fat percentage and stress levels (heart rate variability).”
The data is stored in a secure cloud system operated by LifeWatch. The will also allow consumers to do things like plan their diets and activities, securely share the information with a health provider, and set the phone to remind them of their drug type, dose and intake time. Patients are also able to analyze the data with built-in trend analysis software in order to detect patterns of healthy and unhealthy behavior.
The device will run Android 2.3 Gingerbread with a fast Qualcomm MSM7227 Turbo chip. It comes with 512MB of RAM, 1GB of internal storage, and two cameras. The front-facing camera has low resolution though the rear camera is 5MP. While Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are standard, the phone currently only supports 3G.
Despite the mediocre hardware specs, where the healthcare smartphone really shines is on its medical specifications, which are summarized below.
With the emergence of a wide range of peripherals for consumer smartphones, this device represents an interesting alternative approach – building a “medical” smartphone. With this approach, the device itself then ends up with numerous embedded functions without the need for additional peripherals. However, it also loses out on the ability to piggy back on cutting edge consumer technology which Samsung, Apple, and HTC spend heavily to develop and implement.
That this device is coming from the maker of more traditional mobile medical tools (e.g. dedicated devices like Holter monitors) is worth noting. The approach is certainly similar to the approach taken by other large device makers like Sonosite. Many startups like Mobisante, AliveCor, and Cellscope are using consumer devices to which they add peripherals that supplant more traditional (and proprietary) tools that provide the same functionality. Its also worth noting though that many of these startups are aiming to market their devices directly to patients, an approach unlikely to be taken by the more established device makers.