The future of basic medicine is starting to sound like science fiction: the tricorder from Star Trek has been brought to life by Scanadu, a startup at NASA’s Ames Research Center. Meanwhile, biotech companies are developing pills embedded with sensors to track how patients respond to medication–once they’ve swallowed them.
Wello is the latest in the line of health-gadget innovations. The handheld device is made from microelectronics and nanosensors and can measure vitals like temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen, and lung functions. The best thing about Wello: It lives in your iPhone’s case.
Wello isn’t the most sophisticated of these gadgets (indeed, that prestige may go to the sensor-laden pills), but it does offer a solution to the problem of user access, because, while only the rare hypochondriac might carry a thermometer or blood pressure monitor in his bag, none of us would ever leave home without our phone. To use Wello, simply hold the phone horizontally with two hands and place your index fingers over a couple of raised buttons on the side of the case. The device takes your vitals and in seconds transmits that data to an ultra-clean, gridded app, where measurements for everything are presented in simple, line-drawn graphics.
With that kind of ease of use, Wello’s founder, Hamish Patel, is also hoping to put the technology in the hands of millions of people around the world who self-manage diabetes and hypertension–and to wit, it’s already available in 43 countries. To do that, of course, would mean adapting the Wello to more flexible sizes and fits. The fact that Wello’s already squeezed an entire doctor’s visit into a few millimeters of plastic makes us think that’ll be the easy part.