News & Views
Mobile health and fitness industry is in better shape than ever

Back in August, Cardiio hit the App Store and set pulses racing with its innovative, award winning technology. The revolutionary Cardiio app offered users the ability to monitor their own heart rate and even calculate their own life expectancy, allowing them to proactively manage a healthy lifestyle and minimise the risk of serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease and obesity. A healthcare technology development offshoot of MIT, Cardiio’s mission statement is to create handheld device and cloud-based tools which enable individuals to “gain insight and take charge of their wellbeing”.

So how does the heart rate monitor app work, exactly? It’s all about how much colour you have in your face, apparently. Each individual heartbeat pumps more blood into the face; the slightest increase in blood volume causes more light to be absorbed, reducing the amount of light that is reflected. The Cardiio app calculates your heart rate by using the iPhone front camera to track these changes in reflected light, which aren’t visible to the naked eye.

Cardiio is just one player in a rapidly expanding cottage industry. Azumio is a leading provider of mobile healthcare products whose own heart monitor app, Cardio Buddy, dropped this October. Cardio Buddy is the latest addition to its incredibly popular range of health and personal wellbeing apps, which have racked up more than 30 million downloads to date. Azumio is hoping to replicate the considerable success which it has experienced with previous releases such as Sleep Time, an alarm which analyses sleep cycles in order to optimise rest, and Fitness Buddy, an exercise app which helps users craft their own fitness regime and has been named one of the “best iPhone apps ever” by Gizmodo.

Peter Kuhar, the CTO of Azumio, is passionate about the prominent role that mobile technology will play in future health breakthroughs: “The mobile health industry has grown out of its infancy,” he said in a press release on the Azumio website, “but will only thrive if consumers have access to simple, intuitive technologies that enable them to quickly and easily monitor and improve their health directly from their phones.”

It isn’t difficult to envision the direction that increasingly sophisticated app technology will ultimately steer the entire healthcare sector in. Patient autonomy will significantly increase with the availability of apps that enable individuals to monitor their own heart rate and blood pressure. Managing medication will be even easier with the use of pill reminder apps, and travelling to appointments will become largely unnecessary in cases where knowledge sharing sessions can be carried out remotely.

Of course, no app will be able to replace a doctor in the way that Azumio’s Fitness Buddy might be able to substitute for a personal trainer. But by increasing patients’ independence and confidence, mobile health may also have wider reaching benefits to overall personal wellbeing.

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