Gizmos Topic of the Week

Omron’s HeartGuide measures blood pressure

Omron is the industry leader in blood pressure meters. With the HeartGuide, they fit all the nuts and bolts of their pressure-measuring devices in a smartwatch. But should you go ahead and buy one?

Why would I need this watch?

One in three Americans has arterial hypertension – their blood pressure is too high. This disease is lethal, being the main cause of strokes and heart conditions. The problem is that most patients don’t even know their blood pressure is high. Thus, taking your blood pressure often is important. Even then, many people only experience rise in blood pressure when they’re active – when they sit down to measure it, it drops to normal.

Here comes the HeartGuide

Omron entered the smartwatch market with a bang – the HeartGuide is an otherwise normal smartwatch, except for the ability to measure the user’s blood pressure. Thanks to the addition of an inflatable cuff, the measurement is done via sphygmomanometry, which is currently the most reliable method of measurement. All the other features one would expect from a top smartwatch are there; push notifications as well as heart rate, activity and sleep tracking are all present.

Sacrifices were made

The HeartGuide comes with a $499 pricetag, thus it’s only fair that we compare it with other top-of-the-line watches such as the Apple Watch. It then becomes clear that all the tech and effort required to make the HeartGuide the first pressure-taking watch made it a worse smartphone overall. First of all, it’s way too bulky and heavy for everyday use. Although the screen is big, very little information is actually displayed. The fact that it’s always on doesn’t help with the battery, which needs recharging every couple of days. Because of all these limitations, it is unlikely that users will use the HeartGuide as their primary smartwatch.

HeartGuide: the future or merely a gimmick?

The HeartGuide is a huge step in the use of tech to improve health and well-being. That said, it’s the first time that accurate pressure measuring tech is shoved into a smartwatch, and it shows. Omron’s next target should be refining the design, in order to make a smartwatch that accurately measures blood pressure without sacrificing usability and aesthetics.

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