Mar 6, 2014 · 3 minutes

Health monitoring is leaving the doctor's office and heading to the smartphone.

Azoi today announced an iPhone case that can measure its owner's blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature after just a few seconds of contact. The device will also ship with a free peripheral that allows owners to measure their lung functions. It's called Wello, and it's now available for pre-order in the United States, China, Canada, and other countries.

Wello is the latest example of the shrinkage of health monitoring. Companies like Jawbone and Fitbit are turning their wrist-born fitness trackers into intelligent health monitors. Scanadu is trying to condense the equipment found in a doctor's office into a thumb-sized device.

Health monitoring is getting easier than ever. Now we'll just have to see if that makes people care more about their well-being or if these devices will receive about the same amount of attention as the decades' worth of fitness tools collecting dust in closets around the world.

Reactions from around the Web

TechCrunch reports that health monitoring will become increasingly important to smartphone-makers:

The next war among smartphone makers will most likely be around health measurement, and the Wello is an iPhone accessory that recognizes that and wants to capitalize early. It offers iPhone users a heart rate monitor on their device, just like Samsung has built into the Galaxy S5, but it also offers up a lot more besides, including sensors to measure your ECG, blood pressure, blood oxygen, temperature, and more.
Gizmodo praises the device:
Wello is perhaps the most sleek and sophisticated devices out there. It's so sleek that you would think it's just a regular case. It's sophisticated because it can do more than most other health monitors out there. You can even sync Wello with your Wi-Fi scale or fitness band to further track your health. Wello's app helps you spot irregularities and changes in your health as soon as they pop up, which might not be a great feature for a hypochondriac, but could also come in handy.
Engadget reports that the device is still seeking FDA approval, and that its tech will be available to Android users and case manufacturers in the future:
When the $199 device ships this fall (pending FDA approval) it will be available for the iPhone 4S, 5, and 5S in 35 countries. Android users can also use Wello, but as a standalone device rather than a case for their phone. All of the tech for Wello is contained in a removable card roughly the thickness of your average business card. Azio plans to make the card available for other manufacturers to include in cases, so you might ultimately see Wello come to a third-party Android case, or even a different iPhone case.
Pando weighs in

Pando editor-in-chief Sarah Lacy wrote in January 2013 that the growth in fitness apps doesn't mean that tech can help people lose weight...

Everyone designing a health and fitness app will cite how massive the industry is in the offline world. But if you look at the offline health and fitness industry, it’s largely designed to make money despite people’s lack of willpower. Gyms notoriously lock you into contracts knowing you will flake; self-help books tie into that aspirational aspect of self-betterment too. They don’t make money once they are read, just off the nice idea that someone will read them and maybe implement everything they suggest.
... and then they helped her lose 17 pounds in July:
I’m not yet ready to admit that these apps– even the ones I liked– are going to become large businesses. Jawbone is nicely hedged since it also sells other things, but UP is an important enough product they’ll continue to invest in it. MyFitnessPal has been wise to integrate with slicker platforms, but it needs a major design overhaul if it wants to grow. And everyone needs to make food-logging easier.

But my long-time naysaying about fitness apps aside, I’m glad entrepreneurs thought there was a big enough opportunity to build them. They can’t provide determination and willpower for you, but if you can muster it up, they certainly make you feel less alone and help you track successes beyond those annoying numbers on the scale. [image via azoi]