Israeli company offers first ‘medical smartphone’

LifeWatch Technologies has developed a device that essentially lets users get a full medical checkup just by picking up the phone

LifeWatch Technologies, an Israeli company that, along with its Switzerland-based parent firm, is one of the world’s largest home medical monitoring companies, unveiled the world’s first “medical smartphone” this week. The LifeWatch V is equipped with numerous monitoring and measurement tools, including tools to monitor heart rate, body temperature, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and others.

Essentially a medical device, LifeWatch is seeking government approval in the US and EU for the phone. The worldwide market for the device is estimated by LifeWatch to be at least a billion people. For now, the device will be marketed in Israel. The company cited research that the market in the US alone is worth $1.5 billion, and is growing by 20% a year.

The device works as a phone, with normal smartphone functions, but also records important medical information and uploads it to LifeWatch’s remote monitoring service, which records a user’s health and updates his medical records, alerting emergency services when necessary. Users monitor themselves with the LifeWatch V by holding it on its four corners, where the measurement and monitoring sensors are located. To take their temperature, users pass the device across their foreheads.

The sensors, while advanced, are available on numerous devices designed for home use currently available. The LifeWatch V represents the first “all in one” device with the sensors, offering users cloud services to store and analyze their medical information. The phone itself is based on the Android 2.3 operating system, an older version of Android. However, LifeWatch said that the next edition of the phone, due out in 2013, will run the latest version. The service itself will cost between $10-$30 per month, depending on monitoring options chosen. The phone itself will be sold through the networks of stores operated by the cellphone service companies. Sales will begin in the coming weeks, the company said.

LifeWatch Technologies, based in Rehovot, has about 60 workers. Dr. Ya’akov Geva, CEO of LifeWatch, said that the device was “a breakthrough Israeli development that we expect to market here and around the world. Many different groups, including doctors and individuals who want to keep track of their health, will find the LifeWatch V useful. Individuals who need constant monitoring, including diabetes sufferers and cardiac patients, will also find the device very useful and make their lives easier. The LifeWatch V,” he added, “is a giant step forward in providing information and control for consumers on the state of their health.”

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