Review: QardioArm Smart Blood Pressure Monitor

With Apple's release of its HealthKit API, the company has put the spotlight on its customers' health and wellbeing. Doing so has also encouraged manufacturers of third-party health-management devices to utilize the iPhone as a data hub, assisting users and even medical practitioners with monitoring and supporting healthy initiatives. One such device is the QardioArm Smart Blood Pressure Monitor $(99).

The QardioArm is roughly the size of an external battery charger, wrapped in an adhesive nylon cuff that inflates when activated. Using the QardioArm is remarkably easy, especially if you have ever measured your blood pressure at a pharmacy kiosk machine.

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After installing the free QardioArm app, creating or logging into your Qardio account, and pairing the QardioArm with your iPhone, simply wrap the cuff around your upper arm. Then tap the green START button on the app (or on your Apple Watch if you are wearing one). The QardioArm comes pre-loaded with four AA batteries (which lasts about a year of normal use before needing replacement, according to the company's representatives), so the cuff will inflate and deflate automatically. About ten seconds later, your blood pressure reading appears on the iPhone. Before saving the reading to Qardio's servers, you can add notes to the reading such as how you were feeling at the time.

I asked the company to comment on storing such private health information on its servers. Its representative said, "We take the privacy of our customers very seriously, which is why Qardio’s proprietary cloud platform offers maximum security for your biometric data with HIPAA compliance and military-grade encryption. We use Bluetooth pairing and secure connection to the server to protect the transfer of the PHI data." They added, "The data will be safely stored in the cloud. We have built the system in this way to make our customer's life easier, since you don't have to worry about deleting the App and lose your data, you can take measurements from different devices and share your data with your doctor at any time. You are the only person that has access to your personal health information. You yourself have to authorize sharing of your data with your family, friends or doctor —if you so wish."

For those still not yet ready to trust the company's security practices but very much interested in using the device, the Qardio app can be switched on to "Visitor Mode" which allows readings to be taken but not stored either on the device or Qardio's servers. The app and device are also Apple Health compatible, so cardiovascular readings can be provided to Apple's app and cloud service as well. 

Final Verdict

Overall, I found the QardioArm intuitive and much easier to use compared to the more traditional bulb inflatable cuff and stethoscope combination. Readings were accurate and the Visitor Mode option allowed me to take measurements of my family members without accidentally mingling their results with my own readings. For those interested in or who need to monitor their blood pressure, the QardioArm is an excellent iOS-friendly device that makes the data collection process fast, simple and effective.

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Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.