Google sees a future in wearable-free health monitoring

You might soon check your blood or your lungs with a mobile app.

Google and its Alphabet parent haven't been shy about their interest in digital health, and now they're taking that curiosity in an unusual but potentially very helpful direction. GeekWire reports that Google has acquired Senosis Health, a Seattle-area startup whose focus was on turning smartphones into health monitoring tools. Its apps used a phone's built-in sensors to perform checkups that would normally require a dedicated sensor: HemaApp checks your blood's hemoglobin count using your phone's camera, for example, while SpiroSmart uses the microphone to measure your lung functions.

It's not clear how much Google paid, or what the specific aims will be. However, Senosis isn't joining Alphabet's Verily team or moving shop to Mountain View. However, an insider speaking to GeekWire claims that staff will remain in Seattle and form the "backbone" of a digital health team. This is the start of something larger, then, and not just a bid to augment existing efforts.

Given Senosis' focus, it's not hard to see where this could go. It won't be surprising if Google builds on these apps to track all kinds of health indicators using your phone, whether it's through dedicated apps or features baked into Android. You'd have a better sense of when you need to talk to a doctor and when you're well enough to stay home.