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Asus VivoWatch BP first look review: Monitor your blood pressure on the go

Asus’ VivoWatch BP is the first of the next generation of health wearables – now you can keep tabs on your blood pressure, too

We’re all used to wearables that track our heart rate, but Asus’ VivoWatch BP pushes the concept one step further – this is the first health wearable that also tracks your blood pressure.

It’s not the kind of PowerPoint presentation you’d expect on the first day in Computex Taiwan, but Asus wanted to discuss hypertension, otherwise known as high blood pressure, and it didn’t make for cheerful reading. The condition affects more than 1 in 5 adults and results in 9.4 million deaths per year, and Asus quoted a study that suggests as many as 1.5 billion people worldwide will be affected by 2025 – a 60% increase from the year 2000.

Asus VivoWatch BP first look review: What you need to know

The goal of the VivoWatch BP is to let people check their own blood pressure and without the bulky devices that currently masquerade as ‘portable’ blood pressure monitors. Asus stated that it’s over 70% smaller than the closest comparable device, and as you can see from the image above, that’s a pretty believable claim.

It combines two sensors: a medical grade ECG (electrocardiogram) sensor takes the heart rate signal from your wrist, while a front-facing PPG (photoplethysmogram) sensor reads your pulse from your fingertip. Asus claims that the combination of those readings results in an accurate blood pressure reading in just 15 seconds.

It’s super simple to use. It is bulkier than a standard fitness band, or even a fitness watch, but not by much, and it’s certainly not heavy. You simply strap it on your wrist, tap the screen to start the monitoring process, then very gently rest your fingertip on the silver sensor on the front. 15 seconds later you’re presented with your blood pressure readings – and in my case they were very similar to the readings at my GP a fortnight earlier.

Asus VivoWatch BP first look: Apps and battery life

Like any self-respecting wearable, the VivoWatch BP also does heart rate, sleep and fitness tracking, and the results all feed into the Asus HealthAI and Smart Health Manager apps. This allows you to track your fitness levels over time, and the apps even notify you if your results suggest that you might want to adjust your lifestyle.

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Battery life sounds promising, too. Asus quotes 28 days of use in ‘normal operation’, and this is apparently thanks to the low-powered processor inside combined with a transflective display. Asus claims that the display alone is 90% more efficient than the OLED displays on rival devices.

If you want always-on heart rate and fitness tracking, however, battery life tumbles to just 24 hours.

Asus VivoWatch BP first look: Early verdict

Fitness wearables have caught on in a big way – and in a way that smartwatches so far haven’t – so the VivoWatch BP really isn’t as out there as it initially seems. It’s not impossible to think that devices such as this are just the tip of the health wearable iceberg.

The key question, however, is whether any medical bodies endorse the VivoWatch BP as being accurate enough to actively replace larger blood pressure monitors. If they do, the VivoWatch BP could be a genuine lifesaver.

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