iBeat smartwatch detects cardiac arrest


From their inception, smartwatches have had a rocky road. At first they were considered more gimmicks rather than anything else. I mean, you already have a smartphone, why would you need a smart watch? And for a long time, this question stood unanswered bar from the obvious “because why not” answer. However for the first time, someone’s used the smartwatch for something a smartphone can’t do. Particularly, iBeat used the fact smartwatches are worn on the wrist to detect cardiac arrest early!

Ryan Howard is the founder of the Practice Fusion company, and Dr. Mehmet Oz, the know it all celebrity doctor always trying to sell people some sort of miracle. This unlikely duo has partnered up to release a new kind of smart watch, one that monitors your heartbeat. The iBeat Life Monitor is made to be capable of detecting signs of cardiac arrest early. Supposedly, it is able to do this through photoplethysmography, which is almost as complicated to explain as it is to spell. It is a way of using a pulse oximeter to measure the varying volume in the blood and distal vessels, it then extrapolates the volume of blood pumped by the heart from this data. This technology has left some a bit skeptical about the iBeat’s effectiveness, as it has accuracy issues during physical activity and measurements can be affected by simple physiological needs, some as unavoidable as breathing.

According to the creators, when the iBeat detects a problem, it sounds an alarm prompting the user to state if they’re alright. If there’s no response, or the user presses the ‘No’ button, the watch will dial emergency services and numbers that you program into the device. This will be done through the user holding down the emergency call button on it for at least two seconds as well. Since it has its own cellular connectivity built in, it doesn’t need a smartphone to operate. Moreover, because there’s a GPS inside as well, it will provide the user’s location to emergency responders and family members to help speed up the response. The responders and caretakers receive a text message with a map of the user’s location, even if the patient is moving. This lets the medical team respond in an appropriate way, whether by sending out an ambulance or warning an emergency room to get ready for a new arrival, while family members are always aware of the person’s location and can come quickly to the receiving hospital.

Dr. Oz held a call with members of the media and highlighted that survival from cardiac arrest outside the hospital is quite low. He said that he’s optimistic the iBeat can “quite dramatically” change those odds, particularly for older people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol.

Although the iBeat smart watch device isn’t available to buy yet, the pre-orders taken via Indiegogo help it in the manufacturing process.

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