Sharp gives health check-ups a futuristic touch

The health pod will collect vital signs, send them to your doctor, and make you look cool

A model demonstrates a futuristic health pod developed by Sharp, on show at the Ceatec 2013 expo in Japan on October 1, 2013.

A model demonstrates a futuristic health pod developed by Sharp, on show at the Ceatec 2013 expo in Japan on October 1, 2013.

Putting a futuristic spin on the basic elements of a health check-up, Japan's Sharp has developed a sort of healthcare pod that allows people to look cool while their vital signs are measured.

The pod-shaped device, on show this week at the Ceatec show just outside of Tokyo, measures a person's weight, pulse, blood pressure, temperature and oxygen saturation in their blood.

Users sit in the device and settle in for the measurements. Blood pressure is measured the conventional way, with a band around the arm, and pulse through a sensor that touches the user's finger.

The results are displayed on one of three flat panel displays that hang down in front of the user.

When I tried the machine, it completed all of the measurements in about 20 seconds. Some of the figures were low, but Sharp said the machine was set that way to prevent embarrassment for the models demonstrating the device.

After the measurements were complete, the machine would transmit them to a doctor and offer advice based on the results.

Sharp said one of the reasons for the futuristic look of the machine is to encourage people to get their health checked more often. A line of reporters, never the healthiest people, queued up to try it at Ceatec so Sharp might be on to something there.

The company is expecting such a device might be used at a gym or in the healthcare department of a company. Sharp's main interest in such a system isn't the hardware but the cloud service that would run in the background, transmitting and analyzing data from the machines.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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