March 2, 2009

Applications Turn iPhone Into Heart Monitor

Several third party applications for the Apple iPhone can now essentially turn the device into a heart monitor and fitness tracking system, Reuters reported.

Michael C. Williams, founder and CEO of iTMP Technology, Inc., which developed the monitoring module, said his company's goal was to make the fitness tracking experience cool, fun, simple and custom.

"We did it by leveraging the iPhone's technology," he said.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said for moderate-intensity activity, target heart rate should be 50 to 70 percent of a person's maximum heart rate.

Technology like the SMHeart Link can collect data from sensors, such as heart rate chest straps and cycling sensors on bikes, and sends it to the iPhone for display and tracking.

Williams said that while there are dozens of fitness apps on the iPhone, none of them employ heart rate monitors or other sensors like the SM Heart Link.

Not only can the iPhone double as a heart rate monitor and bike computer, it can now also track and store workouts and even send the data to medical assessment websites.

Williams said it could calibrate a person's fitness in a matter of seconds.

"Your calorie expenditures are broken out between fat and carbs and they are based on your metabolic data, not population-based tables."

While the applications may be free, the module costs $155 and one also has to factor in the price of the assessments, the sensors, and the iPhone itself.

A user can enter blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose numbers, log physical activities, record weight, and keep a diary of medications at the American Heart Association's (AHA) online cardiovascular center, Heart 360 (www.heart360.org).

"You get a comprehensive picture," said Dr. Daniel Jones, past president of the AHA. Jones said the entries are password-protected and compared and updated to help users meet fitness goals.

Jones, who is dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Mississippi, said heart rate is much more valuable when you integrate it with other data.

Jones said using technology to help people keep track of their health is simply a step forward, "like online banking."

Heart 360 is free to consumers who log on to the website.


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