Mio - the makers of wearables such as the Fuse and Alpha 2 and the company behind the heart rate tech in fitness watches by adidas and Garmin - is partnering with digital health firm Beneufit to help patients suffering from Parkinson's disease.
Mio's wrist-based optical heart rate monitors will be used to track patients' progress in completing prescribed exercises based on Beneufit's pdFit app for iPhone. The app allows doctors to continuously track patients against a series of specific protocols for the disease.
The aim is to use exercise to reduce symptoms of the disease, delay progression and improve overall quality of life and in Beneufit's 2014 12 week pilot scheme in the US, it found that patients following the pdFit program saw a 25% improvement in manual dexterity and 38% increase in fitness levels.
Mio Fuse and Mio Link wearables will be used to replace HRM chest straps, alongside Wahoo cadence sensors, and the partnering companies hope that this will mean more people complete all the tests as the watches should be more comfortable and convenient to use.
"While optical OHR has been used in hospitals for years, it hasn't been suitable for active situations due to the disturbance of 'noise' generated by movement," said Mio's chief science officer Mark Gorelick.
"With the help of our friends at Philips, we created a solution to cancel out the 'noise' caused by movement, by adding an accelerometer to the OHR sensor package. By doing this, we've redirected the movement data into an algorithm, which then gives out a clean heart rate signal in exercise scenarios."
Beneufit points to Mio's claimed near-EKG levels of accuracy for monitoring heart rate during exercise. In our own first attempts at a real world comparison between optical heart rate monitors, Mio's tech did come out on top though the results were not accurate enough for our tester to confidently recommend the device.
Garmin and Polar have both launched sports watches with optical heart rate tracking this year - Garmin actually released a watch using Mio's technology before ditching it for its own proprietary Elevate tech in the Forerunner 635.
A pdFit and Mio wearable bundle starts from $128.99, with a Mio Link, rising to $199.99 with a Mio Fuse and is available from Beneufit now. The pdFit app launched on the App Store in June and works with iPhone 4S and up, iPad 3 and up, iPad Mini and iPod Touch 5th gen.