You may already know Wello as a personal training web service we reviewed last year, but now a health-tracking gadget called Wello wants to pull a Facebook Paper and make you forget all about that other Wello. Oh, well. (Sorry.)
The new Wello, from tech company Azoi, looks like a smartphone case--because it is a smartphone case. But embedded in that case is a plate with sophisticated sensors that can detect your vital signs in less than 30 seconds--all you have to do is press a button on the side of the case, and then hold your smartphone.
Your fingers line up effortlessly with sensors on the back and top of the case. Those sensors gather data that the software algorithms can extrapolate to around 20 vital signs, including your heart rate, ECG, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, blood oxygen, respiratory rate, and temperature. "We do all of this with clinical accuracy," Azoi CEO and founder Hamish Patel told TechHive. "It's really the first of its kind."
All that data is sent via Bluetooth LE to a mobile app, which Patel says will support iOS and Android at launch. The app will pull data from other fitness devices too--Fitbit trackers will be supported at launch, and Patel says that the company can add more devices thanks to open APIs.
Right now there isn't a way to leave a note explaining where you were or what you were doing when you took those vital signs, although they are time-stamped. A note feature would be helpful to analyze how certain vitals might fluctuate throughout the day--say, if your road-raging commute doesn't spike your blood pressure as much on days you take the bus. But that's a small quibble considering how clearly the app presents your vitals.
"We expect this to be a lifestyle product in places like the U.S.," Patel explained, "but it could be a very impactful product in developing countries" where access to medical facilities may be harder to come by. Remote access lets users share their data with others, including doctors or concerned family members--Patel leaves a Wello unit at his parents' house in India so he can check in on their well-being when he's on another continent running his company. Very helpful when the only information your dad wants to give you is that he's "fine." It can't replace legitimate medical equipment for diagnosing and treating illness, but it can nudge people to see a doctor if they're showing signs of heart or respiratory problems.
The $199 device adds nearly no bulk to your smartphone, and its modular design lets you upgrade your phone and continue to use it by just transferring the brains of the system to another compatible case. Azoi even engineered its own charging connector that's smaller than micro-USB or Apple's Lightning connector. It can charge the device in 15 to 20 minutes, Patel said, and the battery should last up to two months on a charge.
Wello is available for preorder in 35 countries, including the U.S., U.K., India, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the European Union. Here in the U.S., the product should ship in the fall of 2014, pending FDA approval.