Developers have found ways to take the sleek, beautifully complex iPhone and bastardize it with mindless time-killing apps that let you watch virtual popcorn popping, unspool a roll of virtual toilet paper, and so on. So it’s like taking a breath of fresh air when you hear about someone actually doing something useful with the iPhone, like AliveCor, which has made it possible to use your iPhone (or Android device) as a personal, mobile heart rate monitor. And to encourage this kind of “let’s improve life” thinking, Burrill & Company has led a $3 million Series A round in AliveCor, with participation from Qualcomm Ventures and the Oklahoma Life Science Fund.
Though it hasn’t yet been approved for sale in the U.S. by the FDA, the AliveCor iPhone ECG promises big things for the medical community. By simply attaching a mobile device to the AliveCor iCard with a piece of Velcro, or slipping the device into a wireless case, both of which have electrodes, you can either hold the device in your hands or put it against your chest to display an ECG that measures and records your heart rate. No special phone configuration is required; you simply open the app and it starts measuring. The electrodes don’t even have to have direct skin contact—you can pick up a clean ECG through your shirt.
The possibilities for the device are infinite. Presently, anyone using the device can measure and record their ECG online, where it is turned into a PDF that can be sent to any doctor anywhere in the world instantly, which is an obvious plus for cardiac patients. But the AliveCor iPhone ECG can also serve as a biofeedback device for people who want to train themselves to relax by working on getting their heart rate down.
You can see how the device works in the videos below. My favorite part of these videos is how assiduously Dr. David Albert sanitizes the iPhone before using it.
"The rapid rise of smartphones and tablets combined with the power of social media networks has forever changed the way we connect and engage, and it is transforming how we manage our personal health and wellness," said G. Steven Burrill, CEO of Burrill & Company, in a statement. "AliveCor's innovative use of smartphone technologies has created a high-performance electrocardiogram recorder at a disruptive price that enables consumers to monitor their heart health anywhere at any time and provides physicians with a more comprehensive assessment of their patients."
AliveCor plans to use the new funds to run additional clinical studies at the University of Oklahoma, pursue regulatory approvals, and prepare for commercial launch of the iPhone and Android ECG.