By all accounts, 2014 could be a breakout year for smart health tech, with nearly every company under the sun making a fitness band, sleep tracker, or health monitor. But if the sector is going to make any kind of a splash, it needs to cast a wider net. What the health industry needs is gadgets that can reduce costly visits to the doctor.
The San Francisco startup Scanadu has turned plenty of heads with its tricorder-like health monitor and urinalysis device. But the products—revolutionary as they appear to be—are still very much in the development phase.
Then there’s Wello. It's a health tracker and phone cover that’s expected to ship this fall, and it can already be pre-ordered for $199. Unlike most existing fitness bands and activity trackers, Wello can measure some pretty complex data—including blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, blood oxygen levels, and even lung air volume (with a specialized add-on spirometer).
It accomplishes this through a series of sensors embedded in the case, which fits snugly around your iPhone. It’s actually pretty difficult to distinguish from a normal low-profile iPhone case.
Android users can also use Wello as a standalone Bluetooth LE device, though it obviously won't fit any existing Android phone as a case. It's not inconceivable that the company could design a version for popular Android phones if the market proves viable.
As you hold the device, it begins testing your vital signs. Information is then transferred to an app on the phone—which sounds a lot more convenient than the bracelet-phone combination required by other health monitors on the market. Furthermore, the Wello battery lasts a whopping two months on a single charge.
We’ve covered a lot of health tech here at Reviewed, particularly at this year’s CES, and we have to admit: Most of it is a bore. This, however, is pretty intriguing.
Azoi, the maker of the Wello, seems to recognize the still-limited appeal of wearable tech, and works around it by hitching a ride with your most indispensable gadgets: your phone. It's a solution that also neatly sidesteps one of the main problems facing wearables thus far: making an acceptable fashion statement. Why force it?