One of the trends we spotted at this year's CES was an explosion in tools for personal health monitoring, from devices that monitor homes for movement patterns to personal brainwave monitors that track just how you sleep. One thing that drew a lot of the devices together was support for cloud services, for sharing information, and the ability to use mobile devices as user interfaces.
iHealth's BPM3 Blood Pressure Monitor caught our attention, as it brought several of these trends together in one device. Looking like a piece of Apple hardware with its smooth white lines, the BP3 is an iPhone/iPad dock with a difference — under the white dome is an automatic blood pressure monitor, with all the control software running on the connected iOS device. That last point is what really makes the difference, as it simplifies what could otherwise be a complex piece of medical equipment.
We downloaded the latest version of the control and analysis software from the iTunes store, and connected the BP3 to an iPhone 4. Measuring blood pressure is very simple: just fit the cuff to the BP3 dock, sit down and wrap it around your arm. All you need to do is press the big yellow start button, and BP3 does the rest. The cuff automatically inflates and deflates (with a pump and pressure sensors inside the dock), and you can watch the measurement traces on the iOS device screen. You will need to keep the BP3 charged, as it has its own internal battery, using the included USB cable.
Once you've measured your blood pressure, you get a clear display of the results, with a colour-coded bar warning of any possible risks to your health. You can track your blood pressure history, allowing you to start determining what might raise your blood pressure, and allowing you to start taking remedial steps. What the BP3 gives you is very simple: the ability to keep tabs on your blood pressure throughout your life, rather than at periodic visits to the doctor. It's a change in the way we do health, bringing monitoring into the home and making it understandable.
You can share the results with your doctor, or your family, by email from your iOS device, while keeping a long-term history in very little storage space. It's not expensive either, as the BP3 costs just $99.95 — and of course, because it's an Apple-certified docking station, it'll keep your iDevices charged.