The smartphone is often seen as a big driver of the trend toward self-tracking and self-monitoring. But not everyone has a smartphone. While some people who track without smartphones do so in their heads -- what Pew's Susannah Fox described as "skinny jeans trackers" -- others could benefit from lower-tech monitoring solutions. And some of the people who most need to monitor health data like their weight and blood pressure are older, and often not at the forefront of tech adoption.
That's the idea behind Blip Care, the new consumer-facing side of wireless monitoring company Carematix, Inc. Blip Care has launched two products on Indiegogo: a wireless weight scale and an FDA-cleared wireless blood pressure monitor. Both work over a WiFi connection -- the company says their blood pressure monitor is the first to do so -- and both are designed to natively track health data for two people in a household and send it to a family member or designated caregiver.
"The 20- to 40-year-old is not really interested in their blood pressure because they don't have a condition," said Sukhwant Khanuja, one of the product developers. "But their parents are starting to worry, and [their children] want to stay connected to them."
Blip Care is building their products for the quantified self community, but also people worried about the health of parents who live far away. So the scale and blood pressure monitor have native displays that make them easy to use even if the user isn't tech savvy, but also can send a trusted family member a message if the user neglects to take their reading. The devices also have built in alarms that can be set to chime if people miss a scheduled check. They're also designed for two-person households: the devices have buttons on them labelled "1", "2", and, in the case of the scale, "Guest". If users hit those buttons before using the monitors, the system will store their data separately. The guest function on the scale can track weight for eight different additional users.
Khanuja says there are big advantages to checking blood pressure and weight multiple times per day and automatically tracking that information.
"Circadian rhythms affect blood pressure," he said. "Depending on what time you take it, you will have a different score. This is not being discussed today because almost all people have designed their systems for a reading once a day." More simply, home blood pressure readings can be more accurate because of the "white coat effect" -- some people become anxious in doctor's offices and this artificially inflates their score.
Although a key selling point of Blip Care is that it doesn't require a smartphone or tablet to use, the company is designing apps for iPhone and Android to make it easier for users who want to to view their weight and blood pressure data in aggregate. They're also building systems to integrate the data into existing tracking apps like LoseIt and DailyBurn.
According to the company, the scale will ship in February for $99, and the blood pressure reader will be available in time for Christmas for $149. Both devices have no subscription fee.