iPhone Pulse Oximeter: New App For That

Zensorium's Tinke app connects to an iPhone and measures heart rate, respiration, and blood oxygen.

Fritz Nelson, Vice President, Editorial Director InformationWeek Business Technology Network

January 9, 2012

2 Min Read

Welcome to the consumerization of health, where the everyday patient can find possible diagnoses, learn the human anatomy, monitor sleep, and converse with physicians, sometimes over high-definition videoconference.

New health-oriented gadgets and mobile apps attack Consumer Electronics Show attendees every year like a virus, and this year is no exception, starting with Zensorium's Tinke, a device that monitors pulse, respiration, and blood oxygen levels.

There's nothing particularly new here: any Walgreens or CVS sells inexpensive pulse oximeters for about $25. Tinke happens to make one with a 30-pin iPhone connector which manages the signal processing from device to phone. It's also super thin, about three inches square, and includes two sensing windows to take its measurements from a user's thumb--two LEDs with different wavelengths react to blood volume changes.

[ What's new at CES? Check out CES 2012 Preview: 16 Hot Gadgets. ]

The whole process takes about a minute. The iPhone app, which is about as simple as they come, spits out a composite score called a Vita Index; it also displays pulse, respiration, and blood oxygen measurements--all of this in a single screen, but the app does trend the data. It doesn't seem to provide a running baseline or a comparison to a norm.

The information is also shareable via the Tinke social network. Although it's probably not wise to share such information on a public social network, it would be interesting to share the data easily and quickly with a physician, say in the case of someone with a heart condition.

Zensorium is based in Singapore, and while Tinke is a fun and moderately affordable product ($100), it still seems a bit bare bones. Maybe it's just that simple, but outside of requiring a user's age, there's little other context: post meal? post workout? post coitus?

The product is still about six months away, and company representatives said an Android version will come later this year.

When are emerging technologies ready for clinical use? In the new issue of InformationWeek Healthcare, find out how three promising innovations--personalized medicine, clinical analytics, and natural language processing--show the trade-offs. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)

About the Author(s)

Fritz Nelson

Vice President, Editorial Director InformationWeek Business Technology Network

Fritz Nelson is a former senior VP and editorial director of the InformationWeek Business Technology Network.

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