The Riversong Wave BP measures heartrate and steps
The wearable has an accompanying app for iOS and Android
In addition, it claims to measure blood pressure
Over the past few years, Indians have become increasingly health and fitness-conscious. It’s commonly known that we’re turning into the sedentary diseases capital of the world. Largely diabetes, blood pressure and the like. To make matters worse, obesity is on the rise at an alarming rate. As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Here’s my review of the Riversong Wave BP wearable that claims to measure your blood pressure in addition to what standard fitness bands currently available in the market do.
Features of the Riversong Wave BP
Before I come to the product’s USP, here’s a quick look at its feature list. Primarily a fitness tracker, it also serves as an activity tracker to keep a watch on your steps, the distance you’ve covered and calories you’ve consumed. In addition, there’s a sleep tracker and notifications for calls and messages. This is as per the official list by the company. Now all of these are standard offerings on most health and fitness trackers, but are available for much less. It also has an accompanying app on iOS and Android that gives you a dashboard on your smartphone to track how you have been faring in your fitness journey.
Once you unbox the smart band, ensure it has sufficient battery levels. To charge the device, you simply need to pull out one of the strap, to reveal the male USB connector. You could insert this into any USB port on your laptop, or directly insert it into your charger if it comes with a detachable cable. Just ensure that the charger delivers 500mA of current or below.
Do not use a high power charger, for the risk of damaging its 70mAh Li-Po battery. With notifications turned off, it lasted me a week. You can toggle through the menu by simply tapping on the bottom edge of the display near the strap.
Notifications on the smart band
It’s a nifty feature, but given the screen size, I preferred disabling it. I believe notifications serve best when you are able to act upon it. And that’s precisely why I prefer smart watches. If I have to switch back to my smartphone, then the notification is pointless. But since those features go a long way in increasing the device price, it’s only obvious to knock them off the feature list and offer a product at a lower price point.
Now different users prefer different use cases. For instance, a few of my friends prefer fitness trackers without a display. They are of the thought that they keep staring at screens, whether it is their phones or computers, that they just want a minimalist wearable, like a bracelet to collect all the data needed, and they could browse through rich data visualization on their smartphone.
Similarly, others prefer that the tracker have a basic level display that shows in real time, essential data so that they could keep their phones aside while they’re on a jog on a quick morning sprint. Either way, a small fitness tracker should serve effectively to track the activities you do and to in some way help you alter your lifestyle.
What’s unique in the Riversong Wave BP?
Since blood pressure monitoring caught my attention, here’s what I think of it. The idea of a wearable that can monitor blood pressure got me excited. The day the wearable arrived at the BGR India office, I was curious. The fact that it claimed to do something that the Apple Watch doesn’t do, made me eager to try it.
Before we go any further, let’s just take a closer look at how blood pressure is measured. Typical blood pressure readings comprise of two numbers. Normal human blood pressure is 120/80. They are systolic and diastolic numbers. Although there are multiple schools of thought, the generally accepted consensus is 120/80 being the readings for someone with normal blood pressure – 120/80mmHg that is. Hg stands for Hydragyrum, the old name for mercury. The reason being air pressure for long was measured in mmHg before migration to pascals (for atmospheric pressure) or psi (pounds per square inch for vehicle tyres).
With blood pressure readings, given the industry protocols in force, it’s still measured in mmHg. The first number or systolic refers to the pressure with which the heart pumps blood into your body, while diastolic is the pressure when your heart is ‘resting’ between beats. Every healthy human has a systolic and diastolic in the vicinity of 120/80mmHg.
Since we’re measuring pressure here, typical instruments used for measuring blood pressure, or sphygmomanometers as they are known as, exert an external pressure to mask the flow of blood through the blood streams in your arm. The pressure at which blood flow stops is your systolic pressure. That’s when the pressure exerted on your arm is enough to stop the flow of blood in your arm. Once that pressure reading is noted, the external air pressure around the cuff of the sphygmomanometer is slowly released to once again hear heartbeats. That’s your diastolic reading.
Blood pressure monitoring using a wearable
Now that you’ve understood how blood pressure is measured, let’s look at the use of a wearable for measurements. Since you need a pressure reading, and not a sound or a heartbeat reading, it’s too complex an operation for a wearable to accomplish. The Apple Watch by itself cannot measure blood pressure. Heartrate and blood pressure are two different metrics. Even a device like QardioArm uses a cuff to go through the whole process I mentioned above.
If you’ve ever consulted doctors for blood pressure related matters, they would recommend that you regularly track readings. However, since going to the doctor everyday could get inconvenient, qualified doctors would go to the extent of recommending a blood pressure monitor. These blood pressure monitors (typically manufactured by companies such as Johnson and Johnson, or Omron among others) have cuffs that pumps air – either manually, or the device does it automatically at the press of a button – to constrict your arm to arrest blood flow. And that’s the good reason that Apple with all its superior research and product development teams hasn’t been able to add blood pressure monitoring to the Apple Watch that retails at about 10 times the price of a Riversong Wave BP smart band.
This means that the USP of this product just got invalidated. If you like to see blood pressure numbers get displayed on the screen, then it’s a novelty feature. But those numbers don’t mean much. I wouldn’t gamble with medical dosage or use it as inputs to share with a medical professional.
This brings me to the close of my review. It’s time to reconsider your tech codependency. Wearables and trackers of any kind are meant to just give a reference. But no one’s ever considered calibration of this data. And in matters of health, it’s too critical to bank on an uncalibrated mechanism. A blood pressure reading influences medication dosage, exercise intensity, diet, and even overall state of mind.
At a retail price of Rs 3,499, the Riversong Wave BP is overpriced for what it offers. In comparison, the Honor Band 3 at Rs 2,799 seems to be a much better deal. I’d close with a simple advice. Maintain a healthy lifestyle, and if you suffer from any lifestyle disease, consult with your doctor and seek the help of a professional.