Next year promises to bring many new Bluetooth 4.0 health monitoring gadgets, but some companies are wasting no time, announcing products this year. Wahoo debuted the BlueHR, what it calls the first Bluetooth Smart heart monitor on Thursday. The wireless heart strap arrives on store shelves in January with a $79.99 price tag. Unlike current wireless heart monitors, the BlueHR works natively with smartphones so there’s no extra hardware required.
Most wireless health monitoring devices today require or include a separate piece of hardware to support the wireless connection. These often plug in to the headphone jack or charging port of a smartphone, making for a clunky mobile solution. As a Bluetooth 4.0 Smart device the BlueHR is a simpler product.
Wahoo’s new BlueHR works with the company’s own software, as shown in the above video, and also supports MapMyFitness, RunKeeper, 321Run, Runmeter, and MotionX to start. Wahoo says additional health and exercise applications will add support in 2012. For now though, there’s a catch because of the Bluetooth 4.0 requirement; only the iPhone 4S (s aapl) is supported initially, at least until smartphones on other mobile platforms add Bluetooth 4.0 radios. Even my “cutting edge” Galaxy Nexus Android(s goog) 4.0 handset is missing Bluetooth 4.0 as it uses a Bluetooth 3.0 radio.
Still, 2012 should bring many devices with low-powered, high range Bluetooth 4.0 radios and profiles. And the smart health monitoring market as a whole is poised to jump as a result of the technology advances: so much so that back in June, the Bluetooth SIG introduced a specific wireless profile just for heart monitoring activities.