Having your blood pressure taken by a cuff that inflates and deflates around your upper arm is reliable, but it’s not very fast or portable, and it isn’t able to give you continuous measurements over time.
A startup called Blumio is trying a different tactic. It’s building blood-pressure measuring technology that uses radar—typically employed for things like tracking ships or speeding cars by monitoring the phase changes in electromagnetic waves as they reflect off of them—to make it easier and faster to measure blood pressure continuously without needing to squeeze your arm.
Catherine Liao, Blumio cofounder and CEO, says the company is initially planning to roll out the technology as part of an armband you’d wear on your upper arm (typically, blood pressure is measured there since it’s at the same height as your heart). It hopes to have a product that costs between $200 and $400 out in the summer or fall of 2017, and she thinks it would appeal to people who already know they have high blood pressure who want to track their health over time as well as those who have had health issues such as a heart attack.
Unlike a typical cuff attached to bulky hardware, she says, “it’s not intrusive. You can now get that data continuously.”
If the company is able to do this, and do it accurately, it would be a big deal. Tracking biometrics continuously and noninvasively is hard in general, and an attempt by a more prominent startup, Quanttus, to monitor blood pressure at the wrist via the tiny movements of your body as your heart pumps blood has so far failed (see “Health Tracking Startup Fails to Deliver on Its Ambitions”)…