CES 2021 Liveblog: Top Highlights From the Show


The Covid-19 pandemic stripped hospitals of resources and kept many medically vulnerable patients home. But even in healthier times, patients that lived far away from specialists traveled long distances to visit their doctors for frequent follow-up appointments. This especially applies to patients with cardiovascular disease. If symptoms come and go, it’s very easy for a clinician to miss them. Constant monitoring is key.

Last July, the FDA cleared HD Medical’s flagship product, the HD Steth electronic smart stethoscope. At CES 2021, they announced the HealthyU, the first intelligent home monitoring device that monitors seven different biometrics. It has a 7-lead ECG and can also monitor blood pressure, respiratory rate, lung sounds, heart sounds, heart rate, SpO2, and temperature. HD Medical expects FDA clearance by Q2 2021. 

The HealthyU is already being used in clinical evaluations and the company is currently in talks with partners in the wellness and professional sports fields. Now you won’t have to wake up five hours in advance of an appointment, just to have a doctor listen for a few minutes and declare that “all is well.”

Learn more about HealthyU here.

Adrienne So

Ordinary Wearables May Soon Track Blood Pressure

Valencell blood pressure sensor

Photograph: Valencell 

You might not recognize Valencell’s brand name, but if you’ve worn a Scosche armband, Jabra or Bose headphones, or a Suunto sport watch, then you’ve almost certainly used Valencell’s sensors before. The North Carolina-based company has made advanced photoplethysmography (PPG) sensors that measure heart rate and oxygen uptake since 2006. Now it’s getting into blood pressure sensors.

Valencell first announced its blood pressure-measuring sensors—which supposedly offer “cuff-like accuracy”—in January 2020, but the sensors were designed primarily for ear-based devices at the time. This year, it has expanded its sensor kit to work in wrist-based wearables and those worn on the finger. Fitness trackers, smartwatches, and smart rings may soon give you a reading on your blood pressure, rather than a bulky cuff.

There’s a software component to this, too; the data has to be combined with a person’s height, weight, age, and gender to offer accurate estimations of blood pressure, and anytime algorithms come into the equation, there’s room for bias and error. Also, Valencell notes that this technology is not yet FDA cleared, but the company is pursuing clearance in early 2021. 

Soon enough, our smartwatches and wearables may be able to monitor EKG, blood oxygen levels, and blood pressure … making them increasingly more worthy of their “smart” moniker.

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