New Zcare Detachable Health Tracker Links With Alexa-Enabled Smart Display
South Korean smart device developer Icon.ai unveiled its new Zcare combination health tracker and smart display this week at the virtual CES conference. Zcare includes a handheld device that can detect health metrics like heart rate, blood pressure, peripheral oxygen saturation, and other health indicators, accompanied by a unique smart display enabled with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.
The portable part of Zcare is a rounded silver stick full of sensors. When a user puts their fingers on the device, it starts recording health data, not just counting heartbeats, but determining blood oxygen levels, conducting an electrocardiogram to look for arrhythmia and other heart problems, and using optical sensors to run a photoplethysmography (PPG) test and check blood flow. Body mass index and percent body fat tests are also in the works for future updates. Once recorded, the data can then be sent to the connected smart display or a user’s smartphone and other devices. The device can also be set up so that it can alert chosen contacts and healthcare facilities if the sensors notice an immediately dangerous problem. Though the measurements are all passive, using haptic and optical sensors, Icon still needed to get FDA approval to start marketing the device in the U.S.
“Zcare utilizes machine learning to track physiological abnormalities through evaluation and analysis of your body,” Icon CEO James Shin explained to Voicebot in an email interview. “With significant data provided by Zcare, you can upgrade your healthcare and lifestyle. If I were to classify Zcare, it would go into ‘remote monitoring,” also known as ‘smart monitoring’ in Japan.”
The other component to Zcare is the smart display, a touchscreen that is also controllable with the Alexa voice assistant. It’s not built by Amazon device, however. Instead, it’s an Icon.ai proprietary device, with a special port for the mobile Zcare device to charge its battery, although it can also charge with a USB-C cable. Icon was approved by Amazon last year as a system integrator for Alexa Voice Service, allowing the startup to build the smart display with Alexa independently. Along with the healthcare app related to the portable device, the smart display offers the usual mix of features like audio content and Bluetooth and WiFi connections to the internet as well as other smart devices.
Using artificial intelligence and voice assistants in healthcare is a largely accepted idea thanks to the proliferation of fitness bands and smartwatches. Not many have the FDA approval and advanced sensors to do the kinds of tests Icon offers in Zcare, but the concept has been popping up for some time as in 2018 when the FDA approved Medtronic’s Guardian Connect system for monitoring glucose, for instance, while. Voice assistants could even be used to directly check on someone’s health by analyzing vocal biomarkers for issues like heart conditions. This past year has seen vocal biomarker research accelerate rapidly as voice tech and healthcare companies work on developing voice tests for COVID-19. Zcare is a new iteration of Icon’s larger AI hardware plans and not officially available to purchase yet. The company has also spent time at CES promoting its Zmirror smart mirror, a $420 device that acts as a different kind of specialized smart display with skincare analysis software and an Alexa-enabled Harman Kardon smart speaker built into the base.
“Our revolutionary technology paves a path toward the future,” Shin said. “We are a software-led hardware company that aims to deliver AI-enabled products to every market around the world. The system-level solutions offered by ICON.AI can reduce the development effort for device makers and help them get products to market faster.”