Connecting health-monitoring hardware to smartphones is a no-brainer. The phone does the heavy processing, offers up power and screen, and thus makes the hardware cheaper and more importantly , smaller. However, you still need to power the thing, which can be tough when you're trying to gauge vitals overnight or longer. Insert Coin competitor iOximeter, a pulse oximeter, reckons it's solved that issue by taking what it needs, power-wise, from your headphone socket. Using a special pulse sensor (that it already owns the intellectual property rights for), iOximeter drops the power requirements down to under 8mA, which means it frees up the typical smartphone battery port (micro-USB or Lightning; it's iOS- and Android-compatible) to continue charging.
"Because we can add more features through the smartphone app, unlike some relationships, it's going to get even better over time."
The sensor we toyed with at Expand was accurate to within 2 BPM at resting heart rates (it gets even better when you're riled), while it can also count the level of blood oxidation -- thus the name. That isn't where the capabilities stop however, and future development focuses on both respiration rate (intake per minute) and heart-rate deviation, which sounds like a scary metric that would deserve some monitoring. "Because we can add more features through the smartphone app, unlike some relationships it's going to get even better over time", said iOximeter's Yale Zhang, with a sigh. Aside from health business applications, where a cheap long-term monitor could make remote care a whole lot more feasible, the team has already seen interest from, oddly, yoga and meditation groups. These people are apparently looking to log and monitor exactly how relaxed (precisely!) they're getting during their mantras. No price has been set yet, although the team is promising it'd be an accessible one. We'll update when we get a price tag.
iOximeter heart rate monitor at Expand NYSee all photos
Edgar Alvarez contributed to this report.