iMedicalApps exclusive review of Blip, the first WiFi Blood Pressure Monitor

Blip is a product of Blipcare, a company with two main creations to date — a Blood pressure monitor and a weight scale. The common theme between the two devices is they connect to your home Wi-Fi, not your phone or computer.  Blip’s Blood pressure monitor is FDA approved.

At first glance, the Blip Blood Pressure monitor seems rather drab. When we reviewed Withings and iHealth’s portable blood pressure monitors, we were impressed by their aesthetics and how they connected to the iPhone. Both of these blood pressure monitors feel like an extension of the iPhone’s design, with Withings being one of the darlings of CES back in 2011.

So back to the yet to be released Blip device. No iPhone-esque aesthetics, no big splash at a conference, and no direct connectivity to smart phones.
Not too exciting right?

Wrong.

After spending a few days with Blip and exposing it to my father, I found its austere facade was hiding the secret to the brilliance of this portable blood pressure monitor — Simplicity.

My father has been in the market for a Blood Pressure monitor for the past year, and he hasn’t found one to his liking yet. He is a brilliant scientist, but mobile technology leaves him puzzled. At the same time, he is a religious self tracker. He takes meticulous notes of his cholesterol and blood pressure readings from clinic visits and has them all plugged into Excel documents.

When I tried to get him to use the iHealth and Withings blood pressure monitors it was a disaster. The biggest issue he had was plugging the monitors into his iPhone and having to use the apps. He didn’t like having to navigate into the app to look at his blood pressure readings and using the app to get the devices to work.
When I introduced him to Blip — the same issues arose with setup. I had to guide him on how to do the Access Point Setup, and he couldn’t have setup the device without my help.

Setting up:

APS: The Access Point Setup is a one time exercise when you initially power on the device. You can use a smartphone, tablet, or computer to connect to the devices Wi-Fi name (Blip), and then enter http://192.168.101.1 into any browser — from there you direct the device to connect to your local hotspot. To be fair, this is a relatively easy setup, requiring only 5 minutes, but novice users might need help doing this.

The device had already been preregistered on the BlipCare portal site, but I’m relatively certain I would have had to do this setup for my father as well — you have to enter the devices serial code number and set up an account.

Using the Device:

As you can see from the pictures, the device layout is straightforward. There is an area for User 1 and User 2. Once the setup is complete, all you have to do is put your blood pressure cuff on, hit the correct user, and then the device will take your blood pressure and automatically upload it to the online portal using your Wi-Fi.  Two people can use one device with the two user setup.

Graphs:

The above are graphs that are made when your blood pressure is recorded.

The Blood Pressure readings are a mixture of my own and some preloaded values from the makers of Blip — I didn’t want to publish my fathers information in this post.

Battery Powered:

Blip takes four double A batteries to operate. When we inquired about the battery life, Blipcare told iMedicalApps that one cycle of batteries will provide 800 readings, so about one year.  They also told iMedicalApps that they have no plans to create a device with a dedicated power source — due to cost of the overall device and ease of use reasons. When your batteries do run out, Blip told us you do not need to reprogram the device, stating the device will remember up to 3 SSIDs (wi-fi spots).  This is important — if I were to set up this device for my father, I would have to set up the APS every time the battery ran out if the hotspots were not saved.

Reminders:

Blip also enables users to set up reminders using the portal. This section appears to be a work in progress as I had difficulty setting this up. You have to use a 24 hour clock, set a threshold, and do other things. Needless to say, they need to work on making this simpler. The idea is you can set a daily reminder for checking your blood pressure — and the device will alert you to this.

Conclusion:

If you’re looking for a sexy blood pressure monitor that will turn heads, you should stick to the Withings and iHealth Blood pressure cuffs. But if you’re looking for a blood pressure monitor for your parents or grandparents that they will actually use — Blip is certainly a viable option.

Their concept of using your WiFi connection to upload data makes so much more sense for middle-aged and elderly people — folks who aren’t necessarily about the next gadget or the most technically adept. It will surely require the least amount of maintenance.

There are parts of Blip that are still a work in progress. The portal they have still needs some work from a UI standpoint, and they need to improve on key software functionality, such as simplifying the reminder process. Further, they need to create a native app for iOS and Android devices that will display all the information in the portal.  Blip has told iMedicalApps they are in the process of launching an app for Android and iOS within this month.  Android can be expected this month, and iOS in subsequent months.

With all that said — I came away impressed with the Blip Blood pressure monitor.  More importantly, my dad has finally found a Blood Pressure device he wants to actually use.

Blipcare website  – their initial price point is $149. You can purchase it through Indigogo (think Kickstarter)

Author:

Iltifat Husain, MD

Founder, Editor-in-Chief of iMedicalApps.com. Emergency Medicine Faculty and Director of Mobile App curriculum at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

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7 Responses to iMedicalApps exclusive review of Blip, the first WiFi Blood Pressure Monitor

  1. Sukhwant Khanuja January 13, 2013 at 11:17 pm #

    Thanks for the candid feedback. We are happy that your dad liked it. SIMPLICITY is the key to good data collection. It is really hard to get sustained compliance if one has to do anything other than take a reading! Plugging in wires, pressing buttons etc have been shown to reduce compliance over time. What use would the device be, if one does not use it after some time.

    As you surmised, we are continuing to improve the portal and develop Android/IPhone Apps. I believe this will remain work in progress as we continue to get feedback from users. We will also be announcing integration with Microsoft Health Vault very soon. Hopefully, we can request you to review the Apps as they are released.

    Best,
    Sukhwant

  2. RL February 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    When my BP was borderline-high at the doctor’s office, they had me take a test that consisted of wearing a monitor for 2-3 days. It would automatically take my BP at semi-random times through the day. The wifi setup of this monitor seems ideally suited to mimic this. If the software can send multiple reminders at semi-random times through the day then it could be a good stand-in for the same thing. I’m not aware of any other consumer-level monitor with this capability.

    Note that this sort of test would be facilitated by having a belt-clip type transmitter or just a flat one that fits in a holder or pocket. Maybe this can be considered in a later model. Wireless means portable after all. And if a test can start automatically then so much the better, it would do everything like the expensive lab model. But that would probably require more significant hardware changes (instead of just a software update to make the program send reminders).

    • Sukhwant June 28, 2014 at 12:59 am #

      The BP unit can reminder users – multiple times a day if needed to take readings. User can set up reminders on the portal and it would beep at set times – if the user has not already taken a reading in the last defined period, say 1 hour.

      The BP unit can store upto 1,000 readings with time stamp in its memory. The option of connecting to local laptop using direct WiFi is on the roadmap. Also, one can push data to HealthVault today.

      Fitness Pal is waiting to get requests from customers before allowing integration – so please let them know and we will be happy to integrate with them.

  3. snoseekin May 8, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    How accurate is it?

  4. Mark May 30, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

    Can the information be automatically input into other apps, like my fitnesspal, etc.?

  5. Mary April 8, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    Gotta wonder why I have to share my data with Blip via their portal. This device should allow the ability to store and view the data locally without having to access an Internet portal. What happens when the portal server goes down? What happens when my Internet goes down? Seems that BP monitoring should be independent of these issues. Privacy and data use is also a concern.

    • Iltifat Husain, MD April 8, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

      That’s an interesting point — one would think having the option to store locally as WELL as in the cloud would be essential.

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