5 vital signs, one ‘heavyweight’ device on the back of your Moto X smartphone

click to enlargeAre we getting to the ‘tricorder’ through the smartphone mod back door? Smartphone clip-ons to measure a vital sign are nothing new–the early 2010s AliveCor device was a snap-on case for the iPhone containing EKG electrodes, now replaced with the Kardia Mobile and KardiaBand for the Apple Watch. But the Vital USA Moto Mod has to be the heavyweight champ of clip-on ‘mods’. It is for the Motorola Moto Z only, and the reveal at CES was by Lenovo, the official global distributor. Release (PDF).

The Vital Moto Mod measures five vital signs–heart rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygen saturation (SpO2), non-contact core body temperature, and systolic/diastolic blood pressure–through primarily a finger cuff and sensors. For BP, the cuff uses sensors and a novel inflatable bladder. Vital USA claims that running through all five readings takes between two to three minutes. The results download to the HIPAA-compliant Vital app which will be available through the Google App Store. The app also guides the user through how to take one or more of the vital signs. The Vital Moto Mod is not yet FDA cleared or CE Marked. 

As CNet remarked, the mod is huge and not exactly something you slip into your back pocket. They didn’t have the opportunity to check it for accuracy against other standard medical devices. It will be available after April 8 for $395 (£290).

One questionable aspect of the website is the consistent usage and demonstration of ‘vital signs monitoring’ and confirmation of its accuracy when in the FAQs, under “Is the product FDA approved”, it states that “this is a health and general wellness product. The Vital Moto Mod is not a medical device and therefore not currently regulated by the FDA.” 

However, announced on the 24th was their partnership with Partners Connected Health of Boston to validate the readings in a clinical trial that will compare the Vital Moto Mod to predicate medical devices, which is preliminary to FDA approval. Release

It appears that the US company, HQ’d in Boca Raton, FL, has an Irish parent, ARC Connected Health.

click to enlargeAn earlier, less clunky entrant, which this Editor first saw at Connected Health 2015 is the Sensogram SensoSCAN finger cover monitor which is a 4-in-1, measuring blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen saturation (SPO2), and respiration rate (but not temperature). Measurements are viewable on a screen readout. It is currently available for $499 through their website and is in the process of FDA clearance. In development is the VitalBand, which adds fall detection, medication reminders, goal notifications, and pre-programmed contacts to the SensoSCAN’s four vital signs. Data is stored on both devices and uploaded to their app via Bluetooth.

This Editor is impressed with the idea of consumers not having to work with multiple devices but sees two definite drawbacks: size of the Vital Moto Mod and the cost of both up to $499. They are most useful to those who have to monitor multiple vitals for chronic conditions, yet they are both, at this time, stand-alone, not reimbursable, and not integrated with any major telehealth system. It’s yet to be seen if they will be accepted by telehealth companies (which kit their tablets or hubs with multiple devices), payers, and patients.

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