"An Apple (iPhone) a day with Wello, keeps the doc away and you well-o"
It's the wearables segment that's been hogging all the limelight lately, with everyone and their uncles jumping into the smartwatch and fitness tracker frenzy. The GOQii band we covered recently stood out because of the twist it brought into the fitness domain, with its subscription-based service and the ability to use the expertise of human coaches. Azoi Inc. is yet another startup in the health monitoring segment, and brings to the table a unique and innovative product for those who'd like to be kept in the know about what's really happening inside their bodies.
At first glance, Azoi's Wello is an iPhone case, available for the 4S, 5 and 5s models. And that's really the beauty of it. It's actually a full-fledged health-monitoring device integrated neatly into a regular iPhone case fashioned out of black polycarbonate. The device draws power from an internal rechargeable battery and links up with the iPhone using Bluetooth LE. It comes with a companion app, that stores and displays results. The device supports Android too, but the solution isn't so well-integrated for Google's mobile OS as it is for the iPhone. So if you're an Android user, you'll get the companion app, but will need to use the core insert integrated into a plastic box. You can use it the same way iPhone users can, but with your smartphone lying on the side and paired wirelessly with the Wello over Bluetooth.
To use the device, you need to hold your Wello-clad iPhone with both hands in the landscape mode... not too differently from the way you'd hold it when you're snapping a photo. Your index fingers need to placed on the sensors located on the side, while your middle fingers should be on the two sensors at the rear.
The Wello app handholds you through the process, and 30 seconds later, throws up the numbers that indicate your vitals – temperature, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, respiration rate, and even an ECG graph. Blood pressure and lung function measurements can also be taken separately. That's a ton of useful info you can use on a daily basis to monitor your vitals – not just for those who're unwell, but also for those who are conscious of their health and would like to keep track on a regular basis. The app supports multiple profiles so different family members can use the same device, maintains history for comparison, and also enables remote access.
We got a chance to play with a prototype and a beta app at the launch event, and while it was clear that it wasn't the final product, we came back impressed with what we saw. It just takes a few seconds to give you the data you need, and then it's up to you how to interpret it.
The company spokespeople present at the event say they're working with a panel of doctors to take the result analysis to the next level and make it more useful for the users. They also promise that Wello's app will be able to use data captured by other devices and apps like Jawbone and Fitbit, adding another level of usefulness if you're a fitness buff. Wello is priced at Rs 12,350, and will initially be available in India, the US, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, UK and across the European Union. A custom spirometer, an instrument that measures the volume of air inspired and expired by the lungs, and enables the lung function features of the Wello is being bundled free for a limited time. Currently up for pre-order, the device will begin shipping in August, and by then the company expects to get the required FDA clearances in place for the US market.
We'll have to wait and watch how well the Wello (pun unintended) is received in the Indian market, but there's no denying the fact that it's a highly innovative product and could change the way you monitor your health over the long term. The fact that it can do so by blending neatly into your lifestyle (if you're an iPhone user, that is), bodes well for it. Wearables that can measure steps and calorie intake are becoming as common as pebbles by the roadside, but the health and fitness arena is where the action going to be in the time to come.