Apple's iPhone connector change to drive health devices to Bluetooth Smart

By Brian Dolan
04:30 am

Apple iPhone 5 Lightning Dock ConnectorAt this week's iPhone 5 announcement, Apple confirmed something of an open secret among those companies that make health peripherals for iOS devices: The longstanding 30-pin connector dock has been swapped out for a new slimmer, redesigned connector dock that Apple calls Lightning.

Of course, an increasing variety of medical devices have received FDA clearance over the past few years to connect to the iPhone (and other iOS devices) via that 30-pin connector dock. Apple is making an adapter available that will help with the transition so 30-pin connector compatible devices will still be able to connect to the newest iOS devices, but as Apple notes in the product page for its adapter, not all devices will be supported.

This hardware change will strongly encourage health device companies to consider a short range wireless connection instead of adopting a proprietary one that only works for Apple's iPhones, iPads, and iPods. The big winner here will likely be Bluetooth Smart.

Glooko is one mobile health startup that has based its initial efforts in the market on that 30-pin connector. Glooko created a cable that connected iOS devices with some of the most popular glucose meters already on store shelves. In an interview with MobiHealthNews earlier this summer, Glooko's Chairman and Co-Founder Yogen Dalal said that the company was looking at alternative ways to connect glucose meters to the iPhone and other smartphones. Future versions of the Meter Sync cable might plug into meters at one end, but instead of plugging into the iPhone’s 30-pin connector, they might use Bluetooth Smart instead. Dalal also said the company is looking at the method that mobile payments company Square uses to connect to smartphones — through the phone’s headphone jack.

“There is still a certain amount of interconnect anxiety going around in the industry with the much rumored changes to the iPhone’s connector,” Dalal said in June. “Apple has been encouraging accessory vendors to come in through a wireless connection unless you have to come in through their new 19-pin connector.”

Apple's announcement this week means more smartphone medical peripherals will cut the cord.


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