AliveCor previews next product: A 6-lead smartphone ECG

The not-yet-FDA-cleared device uses three electrodes to create a more detailed reading than existing consumer devices.
By Jonah Comstock
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Apple may be moving towards commoditizing the on-the-wrist ECG, but other companies in the space aren’t resting on their laurels. AliveCor, which has offered an smartphone-connected ECG since 2012 and a wristworn version since 2016, revealed today the company’s next direction: a six-lead ECG compatible with a smartphone.

“For the last year our challenge has not … been in making our devices smaller, but in making them smarter,” Ira Bahr, AliveCor’s chief commercial officer, told MobiHealthNews. “And to do that you have to take a multivariable look at what’s going on in the heart. And to do that you need to expand your field of vision beyond just a single lead, and that’s what this project does.”

The device is not yet cleared by the FDA, but the company hopes to secure the regulator's blessing by next year.

The device, codenamed Project Triangle, looks similar to AliveCor’s existing Kardia Mobile device (albeit with a design update). But in addition to the two electrodes on the front of the device, there’s an additional one on the back. The user places on thumb on each of the top electrodes and places the bottom electrode on their left knee.

This formation — known in cardiology as an Einthoven Triangle after Willem Einthoven, the inventor of the electrocardiograph — allows cardiologists to view electronic activity in the heart from six angles, or leads. With these, the device can potentially catch the warning signs of an upcoming heart attack.

“There are a wide range of medical conditions cardiologists can find when looking at a six-lead project that are simply invisible on a single-lead product,” Bahr said. “For the people who need it most, our product now brings the promise of getting closer to a 12-lead ECG into the home.”

Both AliveCor’s existing products, as well as the Apple Watch app announced last week, are single-lead ECGs, as are most similar devices on the market.

AliveCor CEO Vic Gundotra revealed the news today in an interview with CNBC. Bahr acknowledged that the timing of the reveal may have been influenced by Apple’s announcement last week.

“We had been debating when to make this public,” he said. “I think certainly, the increased public awareness of ECG has made us more willing to talk about it.”