Amazon cuts off Echelon's 'Prime Bike,' Samsung activates smartwatch ECG in US and more digital health news briefs

Also: European Commission pushes back Google-Fitbit antitrust investigation deadline; new handheld ultrasound devices.
By Dave Muoio
02:40 pm

A one-sided arrangement. Earlier this week, budget-minded connected-exercise-maker Echelon Fitness announced the launch of is "Prime Bike," a $499 device that it described in its reveal as "Amazon's first-ever connected fitness product." Through a bring-your-own-tablet interface, the machine would enable owners to join live and on-demand fitness classes through Echelon's subscription service.

"The Prime Bike was developed in collaboration with Amazon, aiming to create an amazing, connected bike for less than $500 and it's proven to be a phenomenal match," Lou Lentine, president and CEO of Echelon Fitness, said in the announcement. "Amazon looking to us to partner on their first-ever connected fitness product is recognition of our commitment to deliver quality at a reasonable price-point as reflected in our explosive growth over the last year."

But all of this appears to have been news to Amazon. The company's spokespeople contacted several news publications Tuesday night to stress that they did not have a direct hand in the product and that it should not share the Amazon or Amazon Prime branding. The product page for the device has since adjusted the device's listed name, and it is currently unavailable for purchase.

“Echelon does not have a formal partnership with Amazon. We are working with Echelon to clarify this in its communications, stop the sale of the product, and change the product branding,” an Amazon spokesperson told GeekWire.

ECG is a go. Samsung has flipped the switch on the ECG feature for its Galaxy Watch3 and Galaxy Watch Active2 devices. Through the Samsung Health Monitor app, users who are older than 22 years of age can receive a reading that the system classifies as either a sinus rhythm or atrial fibrillation.

Although built into the smartwatches and recently given the green light by the FDA, the feature had so far only been activated in South Korea.

Mark your calendar. The European Commission has bumped back the timeline for its investigation into whether or not Google's acquisition of Fitbit violates antitrust regulations, Reuters reports. After announcing that the review would end on Dec. 9 back in August, the regulator is now planning to wrap things up by Dec. 23. No specific reason was given for the pushback.

The Commission is primarily concerned about whether Fitbit-collected data could provide the tech giant with an anticompetitive advantage across online searchers and advertising sales. They are also looking to gauge any potential impact the deal could have on Europe's digital health sector.

UCSF taps VivaLNK for atrial fibrillation study. The University of California, San Francisco will be employing continuous wearable ECG sensors from VivaLNK for its 3,000-person atrial fibrillation study, which aims to pinpoint early biomarkers of atrial transformation. Over the course of the 10-year study, participants will be wearing their sensor for roughly one week per month. The devices will capture ECG rhythm, heart rate, respiratory rate and other accelerometer data, which are collected within a paired mobile app and uploaded to the cloud.

“We hope to identify imaging, serum and digital biomarkers of AF risk and progression in this study,” Dr. Jeffrey Olgin, professor of medicine, chief of cardiology and principal investigator of UCSF's study, said in a statement. “The capabilities of the VivaLNK ECG sensor will enable us to capture a larger continuous dataset in order to help achieve our goals.”

Another handheld ultrasound hits the market. Clarius Mobile Health, a competitor in the smartphone-connected handheld ultrasound scanner space, announced yesterday the release of a new device.

Called the Clarius L20 HD and sporting an FDA clearance and CE Mark, the tool has a frequency range of eight to 20 MHz and is capable of imaging down to four centimeters, the company said. The system's paired app is available on iOS and Android, and comes with unlimited cloud storage and Clarius Live telemedicine support for a price of $6,900 in the U.S., £5,750 in the U.K. and €6,250 in the E.U.

"Every medical practitioner should have access to high definition imaging to improve confidence in diagnoses and accuracy in guided procedures. Historically, ultra-high frequency imaging for superficial scanning was only found on costly premium systems, which has been a barrier to adoption," Clarius CEO Laurent Pelissier said in a statement. "We've miniaturized ultrasound, without compromising image quality. With the Clarius L20, we are excited to release the highest frequency ultrasound imaging in a wireless scanner now at such an affordable price point."


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