OptiBP lets you monitor blood pressure on the go with your phone
It's as easy as putting your finger over the camera lens.
Lexy SavvidesPrincipal Video Producer
Lexy is an on-air presenter and award-winning producer who covers consumer tech, including the latest smartphones, wearables and emerging trends like assistive robotics. She's won two Gold Telly Awards for her video series Beta Test. Prior to her career at CNET, she was a magazine editor, radio announcer and DJ. Lexy is based in San Francisco.
ExpertiseWearables, smartwatches, mobile phones, photography, health tech, assistive roboticsCredentials
It's the start of CES 2021, one of the busiest weeks in the tech calendar, and I'm feeling pretty stressed. I take my blood pressure and no surprise, it's higher than normal. But instead of using a traditional cuff, I've just measured it with an app on my phone.
Swiss startup Biospectal wants to replace the blood pressure cuff with its OptiBP app. It's designed for people who CEO Eliott Jones calls "on-the-go hypertensives" or those with high blood pressure who have already been diagnosed by a doctor. Hypertension affects an estimated 1.13 billion people worldwide according to the World Health Organization.
The app works by using your phone camera and flash to measure blood flow in your finger, then uses algorithms to determine your pulse and ultimately, your blood pressure.
There's no shortage of watches that can keep an eye on your blood-oxygen levels and even take an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) from your wrist, like the
Apple Watch Series 6
. Blood pressure is something that only a few watches, like Omron's FDA-cleared HeartGuide, can measure.
Galaxy Watch 3
also has this feature, but it's not yet FDA cleared or active in the US. Omron has also announced its VitalSight platform at CES 2021 that can automatically send measurements from a cuff to your doctor.
But these devices are extra pieces of equipment you might not already own. Being able to take a quick reading on the go from the phone that's already in your pocket could be a lot more convenient.
Before you take your first blood pressure reading you need to calibrate the app with a traditional blood pressure cuff. Jones says that this is the first and last time you'll need to calibrate, unlike using a traditional cuff that requires more frequent calibration.
Biospectal sent me a phone preloaded with the OptiBP beta and an Omron blood pressure cuff to test out the app. As it turns out, I must have pretty poor circulation in my fingers, as it took a little while for the phone to get a read on my pulse and to take a successful reading. Jones told me that warming my hands and rubbing them together would help. Once I got warmed up, I took a reading on the app and a reading on the blood pressure cuff the results lined up within five points of each other. We have not yet verified the accuracy of the app with a doctor yet.
For more on how OptiBP functions as well as discussion about clinical validations and how the technology works, watch the video on this page. OptiBP is available on Android in the US, UK, France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland. You can sign up for the public beta here.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.