Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. One of the oldest, and still most commonly used, diagnostic tools in cardiology is electrocardiography (ECG). As today’s healthcare pushes for more mobile health solutions and optimal remote patient monitoring, a number of companies have introduced portable, handheld ECG devices for personal use. This industry is growing rapidly and is highly competitive. Sanatmetal, a Hungarian medical metal implants manufacturer, is joining the race with their new handheld, smart-phone compatible, 1-lead ECG device: WIWE. We at Medgadget had the opportunity to test out this new device. Here is what we found.
Design and Set-up
WIWE is a lightweight, slim device that is roughly the size of a business card. Its small size makes it travel-friendly and easy to slip into your pocket. The device has two electrodes, each about the size of a dime, for dry skin contact with the user’s fingers. The left sensor incorporates a small spectrometer to measure blood oxygen saturation (SpO2). A W-shaped light indicator is in the center of the device to show how much time is left to complete the measurement.
WIWE comes in a small, simplistic, white box, which brings to mind iPhone packaging. The box includes a user manual and a USB cable to charge the device. The company does provide a small, protective pocket to store WIWE, but it is not included in the actual device packaging.
Setting up WIWE is very easy. Users first download the free smartphone app available for both IOS and Android devices. They then enter their biometrics, such as age, weight and height, and the device is ready to start recording.
Unexpectedly, WIWE has a built-in pedometer to count a user’s steps. As most smartphones calculate steps, this feature may be a bit superfluous, as people are more likely to carry their smartphones than WIWE.
Usability and Accuracy
WIWE is simple to operate. The users turn on the device, connect it to a smartphone via Bluetooth, and gently place their two thumbs, or any two fingers, on the electrode sensors. WIWE will record a user’s ECG for one minute while also capturing SpO2. The ECG can be observed in real time on the smartphone screen. Following the measurement, the device then provides immediate feedback on the data collected.
With dry skin contact ECG devices like WIWE, noise or artifacts are unavoidable during readings. The measurements can get cleaner with practice, but some devices account for these artifacts with extra filtering. WIWE’s ECG readings do not appear to get as smooth as one of their top competitors, AliveCor’s Karida. When asked to comment on this finding, WIWE Product Marketing Officer, Adam Csörghe, responded, “Yes, it’s true that by employing a stronger filter we could achieve smoother signal, however, this way the signal wouldn’t be as realistic anymore and it wouldn’t be suitable to be used in the Average majority cycle graph shown in WIWE’s ECG “Details” menu and in the Measurement data on the assessment results page. For this reason we decided to go for less filtering so that the need of the medical professionals and individuals looking for as realistic signals as possible wouldn’t be compromised by popular market demands.”
On the home screen of the app, individuals are first provided with a short, educational message on how to lead a healthier life. Users are then brought to a screen where they can begin a new recording or review their profile, where previous recordings are stored. Each recording uses about 700 kB, and a person can select how much storage to allot to these recordings under ‘storage options.’
An evaluation screen appears immediately following each recording, which provides individuals with a simplified analysis of three major components of an ECG: ECG parameters (labeled as ECG), detection of arrhythmias (AR), and Ventricular repolarization Heterogeneity (VH), which is used to determine cardiac muscle health and the risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Each of these categories appears in green, yellow, or red on the screen to indicate the level of deviation detected. (We did get a couple yellow circles. Maybe it’s time to see a cardiologist!).
Users have the option to record whether any symptoms were experienced at the time of the measurement and may add comments to the recording. They are also able to send recordings to their loved ones or healthcare providers in the form of a PDF file via email. Sanatmetal has plans to connect WIWE to a cloud system where healthcare providers may access their patients’ reports online.
Handheld 1-lead ECG devices, such as WIWE, can serve as an excellent way for people to routinely monitor their ECG for potential arrhythmias at home and determine if further follow-up with a physician is indicated. There are several features of WIWE that sets it apart from other handheld and smartphone compatible ECG devices on the market today. For starters, WIWE is rechargeable and capable of collecting the user’s SpO2 and ECG at the same time. It has the ability to estimate the state of the user’s heart muscle cells through the Ventricular repolarization Heterogeneity (VH) parameter, which may be unique to WIWE. WIWE also offers improved detection of atrial fibrillation through its evaluation of the user’s P wave on the ECG. The device is in the process of gaining FDA clearance and currently retails for €380 in Europe.
Product page: WIWE…