Swiss startup Aktiia has announced today its aim to commercialize a new cuffless optical Blood Pressure Monitor (BMP).
Many adults are affected by hypertension, but as many as one in three can be unaware of a problem. They feel the odd twinge or headache, but simply put this down to feeling a little under the weather. And this is the paradox of the condition and the reason high blood pressure is sometimes called the silent killer.
Home BPMs can be quite useful. Taking regular measurements is particularly important as you get older, as the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle can build up over time.
Whether they are smart or traditional, BPMs typically come in one two forms – those for the upper arm, and those for the wrist. Both employ inflatable cuff technology, although blood pressure measurements taken at the wrist may be less accurate. That is because the wrist arteries are narrower and not as deep under your skin as those of the forearm.
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This is all well and good and works fairly well. But we have yet to see a company successfully integrate cuff-less technology into a fitness tracker or smartwatch. There is lots of stirring in this area, though.
A few days ago we wrote about LifeLeaf, a smartwatch that measures blood pressure from the wrist in addition to glucose and other parameters. The company has found a way to better utilize light from existing sensors to arrive at these measurements. Although the watch is expected to land by the end of this year, the ultimate aim is to license the software so the algorithms become widely available.
The other candidate to launch soon comes from medical giant Omron. The Japanese company is working on Omron HeartGuide – a watch-sized sphygmanometer that promises readings as accurate as you would get from upper arm models. The company will be submitting the Omron HeartGuide for FDA review later this year. The device should be ready for sale in the fall of 2018.
Now we can add Aktiia to this list.
In the coming months, the Swiss startup is planning to release its proprietary technology in form of a CE-certified and FDA-approved medical wrist wearable. Just like LifeLeaf, the system uses common optical sensors and proprietary algorithms to measure an individual’s blood pressure at the wrist. The monitoring is continuous so users can see how their blood pressure changes at different times of the day.
“We are going to create a precise, affordable tool that is certified by the health authorities,” says Mattia Bertschi, co-founder and CEO of this new company.
“The potential of this type of product has enabled us to quickly attract a solid base of investors. The sphygmomanometer 2.0 also aims to improve the prevention of hypertension, to better understand its causes, and to develop new approaches to treating it.”
Fitness trackers and smartwatches can count steps, calories, distance and heart rate, but its fair to say its been a while since we’ve seen something truly new on the sensor front. Blood pressure, sweat and hydration sensors seem to be just around the corner. The commercialization of these new sensors and integration into the likes of Fitbit, Garmin and Apple will, no doubt, reinvigorate interest from existing and new customers.
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