New lifestyles create new medical problems which require constant monitoring. Sticking a thermometer under a child's tongue is something our grandparents have done for ages. Monitoring blood pressure and pulse rate is a more recent necessity and lakhs of sufferers from chronic hypertension have learned to use a cuff or wrist-based electronic BP apparatus, thus avoiding a visit to a clinic. Diabetes is now so widely prevalent that home glucometers sell in lakhs —and provide at least, a rough guide one's blood sugar levels. So far so good — but the last frontier and the big challenge of DIY tests remained: the electro cardio graph or ECG which is a crucial test of one's cardiac health.
ECGs are messy — all those wires stuck to your torso, and that sticky paste.... Visiting a clinic was unavoidable — as was the expense which is around Rs 150-250. Not anymore.
In a disruptive innovation, Hyderabad-based Smartron has launched a wrist wearable, called the tband, that for the first time in India, offers users the ability to capture their ECG — as well as BP and heart rate. You may ask: How can an ECG which conventionally measures with 12 leads squeezed into a tiny watch sized device with no leads. The answer is advancing technology which uses a tiny bio sensor connected to three electrodes on the device, which measure the electrical activity much like the conventional ECG. The makers point out that the device is not a substitute for a lab ECG administered by a technician. But in many cases, it will provide a quick guide — and a trace that you can send via mobile phone to your doctor — that may help to decide: Is that a heart attack building up, or a case of 'gas'?
Similarly, the tband, uses an optical sensor, to measure the heart rate. BP is measured by combining the data provided by the ECG and heart rate sensors using what is called Pulse Wave Transit Time (PWTT) and unlike cuff-type instruments it doesn't put a stress on the heart. A built in 100mAh battery ( which can be charged, using the magnetic charging dock provided) keeps the device going for 2-3 days and an OLED display lets you toggle through the various functions.
One caution — the tband needs to be calibrated for each user with his or her normal readings. The mobile app allows you to set up different user profiles and also displays the ECG trace which can be messaged to your medical adviser.
Like most smart wrist wearables the tband also tracks activity, monitors sleep, measures distance covered, calories burnt.... but these seem almost mundane compared to the trishul of clinical measurements it can perform. Squeezing all this functionality into such a tiny device, was a huge technology challenge and involved months of development by Smartron engineers who also harnessed research at some leading academic centres abroad, explains Co-founder and President Rohit Rathi. The tband is available at Flipkart and is compellingly priced at Rs 4,999.