Helo LX – Measures Blood Pressure, ECG/EKG, Heart Rate, Breathe Rate, Steps and more!

So about a month ago, I wrote about my frustrating time with my Fitbit Charge HR which I have owned for less than a year.  I wasn’t satisfied with the quality of the product as the device couldn’t power on within a few months, started peeling and bloating at the band which cannot be replaced. After the 3rd replacement, I think enough is enough. Time to move on. My colleague moved on from the Charge HR to the Blaze which costs $300++ here in Singapore. I wasn’t inclined to remain loyal to Fitbit as this was already my 2nd Fitbit product and technologies used isn’t exactly groundbreaking either.

After searching for almost a month, skipping mainstream brands such as Apple, Garmin,  Fitbit, Jawbone, etc, I caught sight of the Helo (Pronounced Hee – Lo).

Helo is a healthcare wristband that can be worn 24/7 much like your typical fitness band. The key difference is that it is not just a fitness band. It is a health and wellness wearable that is developed to continuously monitor your vitals such as:

  • Blood Pressure (Yes, without the cuffs!)
  • Heart Rate
  • Breathe Rate
  • ECG/EKG
  • Steps
  • Mood and Fatigue Levels
  • Sleep Quality
  • Blood Glucose Levels (No needles, coming Q4 2017)
  • Blood Alcohol Levels (Q4 2017)
  • And more to come

I was initially skeptical. How the hell can this device measure some of these vital signs without cuffs, needles and such? As a technology savvy person, I had my reservations so I questioned the company and did my research and found that PPG (Photoplethysmography) is used by many products such as Apple Watch, Fitbit and more for their Heart Rate detection. From my investigation, a PPG signal offers much more than just your heart rate. For example, a simple Google search on PPG ‘s role in blood pressure measurement yields plenty of medical articles on them such as this. They key takeaway is that PPG is able to provide reasonably good estimations of the blood pressure measurements in a continuous manner (due to the portability of the Helo) which is impossible to achieve with a standard blood pressure measurement device with a cuff. You can’t really go about your day with a blood pressure machine attached to you all  day with the air pump going off every 30 minutes to inflate the cuffs right?

Vital signs measurements are useless if no one sees them (or only you see them). We tend to procrastinate about going to the doctor or seeking medical treatment when we are not feeling that good. This is usually because of the fear of being diagnosed with something serious. Isn’t it the case that your spouse, parents or children are the ones who will drag you to the clinic or hospital when you let slip that something isn’t right about you? Spend some time thinking about this!

Working together with the Helo, the Android / iOS mobile companion apps work to close the gap between receiving and abnormal vital reading and getting the follow up actions. The Guardian function allows you to pre-set conditions that will automatically trigger an alert to yourself and your loved ones / caregiver. You just need to set upper and lower thresholds for your systolic/diastolic blood pressure, heart rate and breathe rate and the app will do the rest for you. Of course, you’ll first have to set up your guardian(s)’ contact details to use this feature.

Another useful feature is the Panic Button. This is a physical button on the Helo for very easy access (just press twice) but works hand-in-hand with the mobile app to send mobile notifications and SMSes to your guardian(s) containing the last known GPS location as a way to report an emergency. This is extremely useful for anyone especially young children and the elderly. Potential use cases:

  • Child who got lost
  • Child feeling unsafe (e.g. suspect being followed by stranger)
  • Elderly who fell down
  • Elderly who got lost
  • Anyone feeling dizzy, on verge of collapsing, etc (potential medical emergency)

At the end of the day, it is not only the technology of the health and wellness band but also the thought put into developing a product that does more than just display pretty numbers on an app. Even as a tech person, I am more intrigued by the Guardian and Panic Button feature.

Want to find out more? Drop me an email at howard@hj.sg

If you want to order a Helo, please use this link: http://catalog.worldgn.com 

P.S. I have ordered one for my wife too.

 

Fitbit disappoints. Looking for alternative.

I got my first Fitbit Flex (Gen 1) in 2014 and used it for almost 2 years until April 2016 when I decided to upgrade for a few reasons

  • I got really sick of changing the bands. Each band, even the original ones, lasted me an average of 3 months before cracking and splitting.
  • I wanted that Heart-rate monitor feature badly

So fast forward to April 2016, I threw the still-functioning Fitbit Flex aside and got myself a Fitbit Charge HR (Gen 1). I love the heart rate detection feature as it allows me to track my heart rate when I have my rare jogs or when I feel unwell.

In July 2016, barely 3 months after the purchase, my Fitbit Charge HR started peeling at the bangs and the band got bloated. A few days later, it became non-responsive and cannot be powered on again. Dead.

fitbit1

I contacted Fitbit Support and sent them this photo as per their request (Nice right? I just bought a lightbox back then and happened to be in the mood of taking photos in the light box)

There was much back and forth between Support and me and I got pretty frustrated because they were asking me one question per email and each email took several days to get a response from them.

Finally, they agreed to ship a replacement to me – all the way from the U.S. Luckily, it didn’t take too long (a week+) for me to get the replacement. It took an entire month (till August) before I could close the matter with them.

Fast forward to December 2016. Despite extra care taken by me (and almost zero instance of exercising with the band -_-), the bangs started peeling again and the bloating happened too. I discovered that the skin of the band was glued onto an inner band and adhesion doesn’t last more than a couple of months with daily removal of the band (it’s stupidly not waterproof enough to even wear into the shower).

fitbit2

I raised a ticket with them in January 2017 and this time round, they wanted me to take a photo of the band with a piece of paper with handwritten date and a case number that they have just issued to me.

As you can see from the image, the bloating is quite bad on this one. I requested for them to issue me a store credit so that I can order a different (more expensive) model that may not fail on me so often. No matter how I explained about the frustration that I had to go through due to the product flaw, they refused to obliged. They insisted to send me a replacement Fitibt Charge HR again. I’m obviously less than pleased.

I am now looking around for a new fitness / wellness band. I do hope I can find a band that looks decent and can do more than just telling me about my heart rate. Maybe one day, I can measure my blood pressure without using my clunky Omron machine. Just maybe.

Anyway, good bye Fitbit. Thanks but no thanks.