World's first production-ready Bluetooth low energy blood pressure monitor

by K C Krishnadas, TechOnline India - December 28, 2011

World's first production-ready Bluetooth low energy blood pressure monitor will work with any Bluetooth version 4.0 "Smart Ready" smartphone or computer

Nordic Semiconductor ASA has said that IDT International Limited – a leading OEM/ODM (Original Equipment/Design Manufacturer) of consumer blood pressure monitors for global medical brands – has announced that it has successfully developed the world's first Bluetooth low energy (or Bluetooth Smart) blood pressure monitor, which is expected to be ready to go into volume production by March next year after receiving final FDA (U.S.) and MDD (Europe) medical certification.

This product will mean that any smartphone, computer, or health hub equipped with Bluetooth version 4.0 Smart Ready (as Bluetooth low energy-compatible devices will now be marketed to consumers) will be able to communicate with a wireless Bluetooth low energy/Smart blood pressure monitor and send collected (systolic and diastolic) data via SMS or email to healthcare providers or even to relatives, including automatically alerting any unusually high or low readings immediately. The device will also record the user's resting pulse and detect any irregularities in their heart beat, allowing these parameters to be remotely monitored too, can support two separate users, and give voice instructions and readings to World Health Organization recommendations (such as "your blood pressure is normal / slightly high / high").

Nordic's nRF8001's ultra-low power performance has allowed IDT to achieve the same 4-6 month operating life from four AA batteries for its Bluetooth low energy blood pressure monitor as its existing standalone designs under typical operating conditions (2x readings per day).

The Hong Kong-based IDT is a developer and manufacturer for consumer brands of a range of medical and sports and and  fitness devices – including consumer blood pressure monitors – and the first publicly disclosed Bluetooth low energy blood pressure monitor that it confidently expects to have passed FDA and MDD approval (for which it is now being submitted) by March 2012.

"We see our Bluetooth low energy blood pressure monitor as a game changer for the consumer mobile health market. It can be used by anyone [the end user has to do nothing more than put the cuff on their upper arm and press a button] and means that for the first time collected data can be sent via SMS or email to remote locations using a device that in many cases the user will already own [e.g. a smartphone or computer] and be able to use for no additional cost, said Danny Leung, Engineering Manager of IDT's medical and sports and fitness division.

"This means mass-market, low cost remote blood pressure monitoring for all suddenly becomes a commercial reality. This will be a welcome development for already critically over-stretched healthcare providers and agencies looking for new ways to cope with hypertension issues caused by a rapidly aging population [everyone is at risk of developing high blood pressure as they age] and explosion in lifestyle-related high blood pressure risk factors such as obesity," Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor's Director of Sales & Marketing.

"But medical will not be the only use case, and I expect Bluetooth low energy blood pressure monitors will spur the development of a whole new range of consumer-targeted Bluetooth low energy-based health and medical apps that could include new ways of collecting, interpreting, and displaying blood pressure data," he added.

Bluetooth low energy (now a hallmark of the latest Bluetooth v4.0 specification) has been designed from the outset to extend Bluetooth wireless connectivity to compact, battery (as small as coin cell) powered devices such as consumer medical monitors.

For more information on Bluetooth low energy, click here.

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