USC launches Biogram, an Instagram-like app that stamps user's images with their heart rate

By Aditi Pai

BioGramThe University of Southern California (USC) has launched a new app that takes some cues from Instagram, called Biogram, that allows users to take pictures, but that adds a stamp to the picture noting the user's heart rate.

The pictures can be pushed to Facebook and other social media services. Biogram integrates heart rate data from AliveCor's smartphone ECG. If the user does not have an AliveCor Heart Monitor, they can enter their heart rate manually or integrate another sensor. The app is also compatible with HealthKit.

USC's Center for Body Computing (CBC) created the app with help from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and health app development company Medable, which specializes in keeping apps HIPAA-compliant.

“The convergence of health, technology and mobile digital devices is allowing us all to become smart patients,” CBC Executive Director Leslie Saxon, a co-inventor of the app, said in a statement. “Now millions of people can add biostatistical information to existing photo-sharing social media activities, and while it provides insightful data that is emotional, aesthetic and informative, it also makes health education more entertaining.” 

Biogram has been in development for the past few years. In October 2013, Saxon explained how the app works at an event in Boston.

"Capturing my heart rate is a way to show you how I’m feeling, is another window to understanding, to enhance this experience of  photo sharing," she said at the time. "...But at the same time, you’ve suddenly got 10 million 17-year-old heart rates that you’ve archived. These kids have a virtual electronic health record. … It’s a totally different experience than going to the cardiologist and getting your heart rate [measured] or anything else.”

AliveCor has been busy lately -- it's made a number of other announcements in recent months.

In December 2014, AliveCor launched its new third generation smartphone-connected EKG device, a model that is both slimmed down and considerably cheaper than its predecessors.

Just last month, the company received FDA clearance for two new algorithms for its smartphone-connected ECG: one that detects normality and one that detects interference. A few weeks prior, AliveCor received a CE Mark for the atrial fibrillation algorithm. And MobiHealthNews has heard the company is now actively searching for a permanent CEO.