Omron Project Zero BP6000 blood pressure monitor & smartwatch / fitness tracker was unveiled at CES 2016. The device was due to be released at the end of 2016 pending FDA approval, but the launch has now been delayed to spring 2017, and it will be sold under the name “HEARTVUE”. The company has however showcased a new version at CES 2017, for now just called Omron Project Zero 2.0 that has the same functions but is more compact and lightweight.
Omron Project Zero 2.0 (left) vs Project Zero BP6000 “Heartvue” (right)
The watch will also work with Omron Connect US mobile app, and can record accurate blood pressure, as well as the usual data you’d get from fitness trackers including activity (e.g. steps) and sleep, as well as smartphone notifications. Blood pressure measurement can be activated by the user by pressing a button and raising his/her wrist to the height of the chest. The goal is the same as the first generation watch: to make people who need it measure their blood pressure in a more convenient fashion. The second generation device looks much more like a standard wristwatch as the company reduced the size of the inflatable cuff.
The new model will also have to go through FDA approval, a time consuming process, and Omron Healthcare intends to release the device in 2018 for around $300. More details about the new model may eventually show up on the company’s Generation Zero page.
ARM has introduced their very first ARMv8-R real-time 32-bit CPU core with Cortex-R52 designed for safety-critical applications in the automotive, industrial and health-care markets. It has been designed to address higher workloads with increased performance (up to 35%) compared to Cortex-R5 processor.
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The processor should be used in systems capable of fulfilling IEC 61508 SIL 3 and ISO 26262 ASIL D functional safety requirements. ARM explains the new processor address both random errors for example bit flipping from radiation, and systemic errors more related to software or design faults.
The latter can be addresses with the right development processes, including following aforementioned functional safety standards, but random errors require some extra hardware features such as ECC memory, or dual core lock step processors, where instructions are run on two processors simultaneously and results compared.
Normally, the whole software stack must be validated and certified on safety-critical systems, even for part of the code that may not be safety-critical. This is a time-consuming and costly endeavor however, and as software becomes ever more complex becomes an issue. So Cortex R52 cores also implement a Level 2 MPU running monitor or hypervisor software, which can help separating safety code, critical safety code and non-safety code.
Cortex-R52 cores would typically be used in conjunction with Cortex-A cores running non-safety code, and offering higher performance, throughput, and more peripherals. Some current processors featuring Cortex-Rxx cores include Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC (Cortex-R5), and Renesas R-Car H3 automotive SoC (Cortex-R7).
Wearables can be used your young children or elderly persons to monitoring their locations or health, and one use case, especially for old age persons, is to detect falls. However, it’s quite possible they don’t like it and/or not always wear it, so the Center for Eldercare and Technology of the University of Missouri designed a system based on Microsoft Kinect, two webcams, and microphones in order to detect falls, and even predict falls by analyzing gait, i.e. the pattern of movement of the limbs.
The picture above shows at least part of the hardware setup with the Kinect, a webcam, and a PC tower doing the processing stored in a cupboard.
Fall detection algorithms are relying on the microphone array, Microsoft Kinect depth camera, and a two-webcam system used to extract silhouettes from orthogonal views and construct a 3D voxel model for analysis. Passive gait analysis algorithms are for their part taking data from the kinect and the two-webcam system. The system was installed in 10 apartment, with data gathered for a period of 2 years, and they found that a gait speed decline of 5cm/s was associated with an 86.3% probability of falling within the following three weeks, and that shortened stride length was associated with a 50.6% probability of falling within the next three weeks.
You can see Gait detection in action in the video below.
Medical grade equipments are usually very expensive, partly because of their complexity, but also because of certifications, legal reasons, and low manufacturing volumes. That’s where open source hardware can make a big difference, and there has been several open source hardware prosthetic hands or arms such as Openbionics hand, but Ebin Philip and his team has tackled another issue with Project OWL, an open indirect ophthalmoscope (OIO) designed for screening retinal diseases, which normally costs between $10,000 to $25,000, but their open source hardware design can be put together for about $400.
The design features a Raspberry Pi 2 board connected to a WaveShare 5″ Touchscreen LCD, a Raspberry Pi Pi IR Camera (M12 lens mount) with 16mm FL M12 lens, a 3 Watt Luxeon LED, two 50x50mm mirrors, a linear polarizer sheet, a 20 Dioptre disposable lens, and various passive components.
OIO (OWL) Prototype development
While the Raspberry Pi board is not open source hardware itself, Ebin has shared the CAD files for the design, as well as the schematics and gerber files for the RPi shield used in the project on Hackaday.io, where you’ll also find some details about the project log. Assembly instructions are currently missing however. One of the software side, the image are processed through OpenCV to remove background image and reflections.
The main goal of the project is to detect retina problems on diabetic patients in rural areas:
Currently there are over 422 million people worldwide suffering from diabetes. 28.5% of them suffer from Diabetic Retinopathy. 50% of diabetics are unaware about the risk of losing their vision. The number of cases of diabetic retinopathy increased from 4 million in 2000 to 7.69 million in 2010 in US alone. Early detection and Treatment can help prevent loss of vision in most cases.
Detection of Diabetic Retinopathy, requires expensive devices for Retinal Imaging , even the cheapest of them costing more than $9000 each. This makes good quality eyecare, expensive and inaccessible to the less privileged. The key idea in the development of OIO (code-named Project OWL) is to provide an affordable solution to help identify DR and hence prevent cases of “avoidable blindness”.
I’m unclear whether this tool is also appropriate for other tests such as dilated fundus examination, or to check the optical nerves for glaucoma patients, etc…. But if it can be used or adapted for such purposes the implications would even better greater.
Some people may need to frequently measure their blood pressure because of their health condition, but it’s often a cumbersome experience, so they may get lazy, and not do it as often as needed. TW68 smart bracelet should make this easy, as it’s your typical fitness tracker with an heart rate monitor, but adding the capability to also measure blood pressure. It’s also very cheap, and I first found it on DealExtreme where it sells for just $24.
MCU – Nordic Semi NRF51822 ARM Cortex M0 micro-controller with 2.4 GHz radio
Data Storage – 7 days detailed data, 23 days total data
Function Health tracker: Blood pressure measurement, Heart rate monitor, Pedometer, Sleep tracker
Other functions: Call/Message notification, Fall reminder, Social sharing, Time, Alarm clock
Misc – Vibrator, touch button
Battery – 60 mAh LiPo battery good for 7 to 15 days; charge time: around 1h30; magnetic charging
Dimensions – Watch face: 41.1 x 18.5 x 11.9mm; silicon strap: 240 x 20.8 x 11.9mm
Weight – 25 grams
IP Rating – IP65 (waterproof while washing hands)
The smartband is sold with its custom USB charging cable, and a user’s manual. The provided app is compatible with Android 4.4+ and iOS 7.1+ smartphones. I’ve been told that the blood pressure data is not shown directly on the watch, so you’ll need to initiate and read the measurement with your Android smartphone or iPhone, which is not as convenient as it could be.
This all still looks pretty good, but based on my disappointing experiences with optical heart rate monitors on most Chinese smartwatches and trackers, except possibly with Energympro EP-SH09 (not perfect but usable), I have serious doubts about the heart rate monitor accuracy, let alone the blood pressure claims. If you look at the product description on DX, the manufacturer claims the measurements are very close to professional equipments… But the embedded Pixart “blood pressure sensor” is actually an heart rate monitor, and the sensor manufacturer only claims heart rate capabilities, nothing about blood pressure.
Finally, if you look at the upcoming and FDA approved Omron BP6000 professional blood pressure watch it is designed with a small motor that will gently squeeze your wrist while taking measurements, something that TW68 won’t do. So it’s most likely a toy than anything else. The demo from Tinydeal below shows the accessories and some of the capabilities of the bracelet, except of course HRM and BP…
With electronics getting cheaper and smaller everyday, I’m expecting medical diagnostic / monitoring tools with become more convenient and affordable, and products from the more advanced Scanadu, to much simpler Bluetooth blood pressure monitors will help people better monitor their health themselves. I’ll also getting frequent request about the availability of soon-to-be FDA approved Omron Project Zero blood pressure smartwatch. Today I’ve come across a simple $16.51 Bluetooth Smart bracelet that could be useful to monitor the temperature of sick babies or very young children.
Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.0 LE with up 18 meters range
Sensor – Temperature between 32 and 43 degree Celsius with -/+ 0.1 deg. accuracy
Smartphone compatibility – Android 4.3+ or IOS 7.0+
Functions – Thermometer; Temperature Alarm; Medical Records; Health Management, Cloud Backup.
Power Supply – CR2032 battery
Wristband Length – 14~19cm
Weight – 19 g
The band must be worn in such as way that the temperature probe is placed under the armpit. I could not find links to the app yet. That type of product is actually pretty common, and some – such as Vipose i-Fever – also include an LCD display.
I’ve been using Xiaomi Mi Band 2 for a little over two weeks now, so I’m not ready to report my findings, and the results are mixed. If you are interesting in checking out the accessories, and physical aspect of the watch, feel free to read Xiaomi Mi Band 2 unboxing post first.
Since the new model adds an OLED display, let’s first see what options it has to offer. The display is off by default, and pressing the capacitive touch button (please note that it’s not a real physical button, so it won’t work with most gloves for example) will turn on the display for 5 seconds. You can keep pressing to go through time, step count, distance, calories burnt, heart rate monitor, and battery level.
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Except for time, there’s a icon shown before display the actual value. If you find that the display does not look clear, that’s because despite its IP67 ingress protection rating, humidity made it into the display, and all I did was washing hands and taking shower during the two weeks of testing. The issue only happened yesterday, so if possible you may consider taking it off before shower, and be careful when washing hands.
Humidity inside Mi Band 2
Just like other devices with OLED displays, it’s barely readable under sunlight, as you can see from the picture below. If you click on the picture, and zoom in you’ll find out the time is shown.
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If you click on the picture, and zoom in you’ll find out the time is shown. So you’d have to make some shadow with your other hand in order to read the display under sunlight. One good point is the algorithm that will automatically turns the display on for 5 seconds when you lift your arm. There are few false positive, and it works 80% of the time for me, the other 20% of the time I either press the button to check the time, or lift my arm again.
You’ll need to install Mi Fit app for Android in order to synchronize time and fitness data between the tracker and your phone. At first, I was unable to pair Mi Band 3 with my Mediatek phone, but after making Bluetooth discoverable in my phone, the connection worked smoothly.
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The first screen shows the number of steps, last night sleep pattern, your weight evolution (only if target is set), the last hear rate measurement, and the last 10 days step count goals. You can click on each item to get more info, including daily, weekly, and monthly statistics, sleep data, etc…
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The “Play” button on the main menu is actually redirecting to settings, where you can set notifications for calls, SMS, apps, and sit alert, as well as define alarms.
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Call, and apps notifications worked well for me, but somehow SMS did not. Sit alert allows for 60, 90 and 120 minutes of inactivity before being triggered, while you can set three alarms, that will vibrate in 4 or 5 sequences of 3 vibrations, before snoozing and repeating the process again in 10 minutes. The app can also work with WeChat, Google Fit, and Sina Weibo, but since I don’t use any of those services I have not tried. You should also be able to use Mi Band 2 to unlock your phone, but it requires Android 5.0 or greater, and my phone is still running Android 4.4.
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The profile section will show your details, total stats, connected band(s), and allow you to set some options such as activity goals in steps, other notifications, and some settings such as metric, imperial or Chinese units for length and weight. If you click on “Mi Band 2” in Profile, you’ll get more info about the band, firmware, and one feature I particularly appreciate: “Mi Band display settings” to select with items are displayed on the watch. I’m only interested in Time, Steps and remaining Battery , so that’s what I’ve enabled.
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But let’s go back to the main menu. If you tap on the top right corner you’ll get another summary of your daily activity, as well as options to share it on social networks.
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Tapping on “Heart Rate” will bringing a window saying “Fasten your band, don’t move”, a little strange since the most interesting part of hear rate monitors (HRM) is to check your hear beat during activity, but I tapped on “Got it” and a few seconds later I got a measurement. I tried several times, and in most cases it was pretty similar to the results I got with Energympro EP-SH09 fitness tracker.
Another way to get your heart rate is to simply cycle through on the watch until you get to the heart icon, and wait for a few seconds to get your heart rate. One downside of Xiaomi Mi Band 2 HRM is that it will only take one measurement, and continuous measurement is not an option. So when I went running, I planned to just tap from time to time to check it out. However, it would fail time and time again (the screen shows — x), and after 20 attempts I gave up during the run, but I repeat the test while a cool-down walk, and again it did not work at all. Back in the car, I could finally get a proper measurement, so it appears Mi Band 2 invalidates HRM measurement is your are not still. Please note that I was holding my arm straight and close to my chest while walking and running, so the “Don’t move” message is to be followed seriously. Those results unfortunately make the HRM on Mi Band 2 nothing more than a useless gimmick.
I’m very satisfied with step counts however, as results are reproducible, and realistic with for example, 4,500 steps for a 4km run, and 2,300 steps for a 2km walk. Battery life is very good, although I did not get 20 days, I still manage to get 14 days on a charge. I did not enable phone and app notifications during the week, and battery went from 100% to 70% the first 7 days, I then enabled Skype, Facebook messenger, and phone call notifications, and the battery seemed to handle this very well, but for unexplained reasons the 12th day the battery dropped from 39% in the morning to 19% in the evening. You’ll start to get an icon on the watch when battery falls below 10%, and I decided it was time to charge the tracker on the 14th day when it dropped to 5%. The complete charge took just above 2 hours.
You can see the Mi Band 2 in action in the video review below.
Some of the advantages and drawbacks for Xiaomi Mi Band 2:
Activity tracking (step count) is working well
OLED display allows you to follow progress without smartphone
Most features work reasonably well including sleep monitoring, phone and apps notifications, alarm, etc…
The display can be turned on automatically by lifting your arm (worked around 80% of time for me)
Custom selection of items shown on display
Very good battery life, around 2 weeks in my case
Useless heart rate monitor that does not support continuous monitoring, and only works when you do not move
OLED display is rather dim outdoor, especially in direct sunlight
IP67 rating can not be trusted, as humidity infiltrated the tracker, even though I only took showers and washed hands (no bath, no swimming).
Capacitive touch button won’t work with (thick) gloves, or with wet hands, and may be triggered by flowing water/rain.
Energympro EP-SH09 is a strapless fitness tracker with an heart rate monitor and Bluetooth 4.0 LE for synchronization with your smartphone, in the first part of the review, I took some picture of the device, and expressed my opinion about the build quality. I’ve now played close to two weeks with the tracker, so I can share my experience with the device. Bear in mind that this was still considered an engineering sample, so the company will likely on some of the issues I encountered before it ships to the general public or resellers.
A capacitive touch area just under the display is used to cycle through 7 watch faces: Time, Date, Bluetooth (Icon will change to a chain when connected), step count, distance, calorie count, and heart rate monitor.
It works well enough, but there are a couple of point that you may want to be aware. The display will stay on for about 15 seconds after the last touch, and remember the last face. It’s very nice if you are running, and want to periodically check your heart rate status, and a single press with show the current heart rate if that’s the one you’ve selected before. However, this become an inconvenience when you just want to watch the time, as you may have to cycle through several watch faces before getting accessing it. One way to work around this would be to enabled / disable watch faces within the app, as for example I personally don’t really care about distance and calorie count.
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Another issue common to all OLED display is poor visibility under bright light. The picture above was taken taken under bright clouds with the time displayed, and if click to access the full size picture you’ll see very dim battery level and numbers on the area with the camera shadow. So it’s basically unreadable under such conditions, unless you place your hand over the display. An e-paper display is the best for those conditions, but then at night it would require a backlight.
Since the button area is using what looks like capacitive touch technology it won’t work with thick gloves (thin ones should be OK), and if you exercise under rainy conditions you may have to wipe the area before using it. I don’t find this to be a big issue at all, but still something to keep in mind. By the way, the tracker is IP67 rated and I’ve kept it while washing my hands and taking showers, and humidity has not come through.
One of the first thing you want to do is install Smart Movement app for iOS or Android, and I did so on Iocean M6752 smartphone based on a Mediatek processor and running Android 4.4. Since it’s relying on BT 4.0 communication, you’ll need a phone with Android 4.3 or greater.
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After tapping on the first screen, EP-SH09 should show in “Lock Fitness Tracker”, and Bluetooth “Connecting”, should then be followed with “Synchronizing” to set the time and date automatically, and retrieve fitness data. It works fine, but takes a little longer than expected, maybe 30 seconds to one minute.
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You’ll then have four sections in the app:
Movement with calorie and step counts, as well as estimated distance, and a chart for the day.
Heart Rate which will show real-time and recorded heart rate chart
Sleep to report whether your sleep last night was bad, normal or well.
Me with settings and various extra options
The step count appears to be quite reliable, although different devices may report activity in different manner, and for example I’m not wearing both Xiaomi Mi Band 3 and EP-SH09, and the two have different options of my level of activity. The former normally count more steps when I’m busy at home taking care of daily life tasks, while after a walk, I noticed the Xiaomi band reported 1,533 steps against 1,285 steps for the Energympro one. The picture below shows the tally on both devices after a day.
Variations are expected between devices as after all they just use motion sensors and algorithm to estimate the step count. The important part is that the band behavior is constant over the days, and I can confidently say EP-SH09 does the job, and you can adjust your goal as you see fit.
I’m not so sure about sleep monitoring however, as all my nights were reported to be “Bad”. While it might have been true for some, but I don’t feel it was the case for most.
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The Me section has some important information and features starting with My Profile to report your gender, age, weight and height, which should affect the step count, and setting activity levels for the HRM. Call and message reminders are use to display the caller ID and vibrate when you get a call or receive an SMS, and the feature works as expected with one caveat that in my phone at least, the app will not always run in the background, and get killed. I have not found a way around this yet. Smart Alarm Clock will allow you to set up to three silent alarms that will vibrate at the given time. I’ve tried it, and the alarm works, but it seems to stop pretty quickly. So if I ever use I setup a “silent alarm” on the watch, and a “noisy alarm” on my phone two minutes later… Remote Camera just does what it is expected to go, i.e. acting as a remote for your phone camera. Other settings allow you to enable/disable touch vibration, scanning background (to auto-reconnect in case of disconnection, which I recommend), date and time settings, language, heart rate setting to optionally define alarms for minimum and maximum bpm, and keep the display on (Long Bright mode) when the heart rate is enabled.
The heart rate monitor is the most interesting part of this fitness band, as it allows continuous tracking during sports activities. You can enable the heart by either pressing three second on the touch area, or going to the heart rate section of the app and press Start. As you can see from the screenshot on the top right above, it will show the current hear rate plus a chart for the recent activity. If you tap the touch area for three seconds again, the HRM will stop.
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You’ll then have recordings with nice looking charts are shown above. During the first two, I simply worked in the garden for about 30 minutes, and the last one was a short 2km run. Let’s go through all three.
Activity 1 – I just dugged soil and pulled out some grass with hands, so the activity level was not too high, and that’s shown correctly in the chart, however, you can see some times when the heart rate dropped to as low as 41 bpm, which can’t be… I was old to try not to place the tracker too close from the wrist, and move it a little higher and the forearm.
Activity 2 – So I did so, and doing the same kind of work in the garden, and it started well, but there was a sudden drop for a couple of minutes to around 50 to 60 bpm, before recovery. You’ll also notice two red bar, that’s because the Bluetooth connection was lost, and after recovery I had two sets of data for one 30 minute activity.
Activity 3 – Two kilometer run at the stadium. I normally start a little slowly, then increase the pace steadily, until the end when I run as fast as I can, and the chart shows just that with the peak at the end followed by the cool down period when I walk and my heart rate comes down. Very good results here. The value also seem realistic with 160 bpm to 180 bpm during the run.
So overall the heart rate monitor appear to work much better than the one on other smartwatches I’ve tested so far, but there are still some issues for unexplained dropped, and sometimes Bluetooth disconnections, which might be normal, but it would be nice if the app could still merge the two set of data together.
I wanted to compare the data of fitness trackers to a cheststrap HRM for my reviews, and I bought one a few months ago, only to find out it required the ANT+ protocol which my phone cannot handle. The company however provides some chart comparing EP-SH09 data to the one of an Ant+ chest strap displayed in Turtle Sport open source program.The first one shows basically the same pattern, while the second one is pretty similar, but for some reasons the chest strap one does have some spikes.
But overall it looks pretty good. They’ve also told me they plan to add CSV export for the data, which should be a plus for people wanting to keep track of their data over time.
A few last words about battery life. The company claims 36 hours with HRM on, and 6 days without HRM, and in my experience I found it to last 4 to 5 days on a charge. Energympro EP-SH09 is not a bad device, and actually it’s been the I’ve tested best so far with the heart rate monitor and corresponding app, but as explained in the review above, there are still some small issues that need to be addressed.
The company has now listed the product on their website, starting at $30 with local pickup in Montreal or Taipei, $40 with shipping by China post registered airmail, and $48 with shipping by Fedex.