Palo Alto-based Azumio, makers of the popular Instant Heart Rate app and a number of other mobile health apps, launched a new free app called Argus, which aggregates readings from many of Azumio’s other apps as well as including built-in tracking for food, sleep, and activity. Unlike most of Azumio’s apps, which are available for Apple and Android, Argus is currently available on iPhone only.
“We experimented with a lot of things in the last few years,” Peter Kuhar, the CTO and co-founder of Azumio, told MobiHealthNews. “We reached a lot of different user segments that didn’t, in a lot of cases, overlap a lot. So this is sort of a framework to guide users to what they want. It’s not just another app, it’s a whole service, a smart engine we’re building in the background. In the future, it’ll be the only health app you need.”
The interface of the app, which runs continuously in the background of an iPhone, is a honeycomb-like timeline. The user can pull in modules when they exercise, eat something, sleep, or even drink a cup of coffee. Certain things are recorded automatically, like movement and use of other Azumio apps, but most currently have to be entered manually. Users can enter goals about food, sleep, and exercise as well.
The most robust buit-in tracker in Argos is the activity tracker, which uses the phone’s GPS and accelerometer, to do all-day tracking without the need for a connected hardware device, much like ProtoGeo’s Moves app. To save power, the app uses the phone’s accelerometer to track movement most of the time. When it detects the user is traveling a certain speed, it registers a run on the timeline and switches to the GPS to track the run more accurately. If the GPS says that the user is staying in place while the accelerometer says they’re running, the app will conclude that the user is on a treadmill and deactivate the GPS again.
“This was developed for quite some time, frankly, and we have compared it to everything that’s out in the market,” Kuhar told MobiHealthNews. “The accuracy, I can say, is in most cases better than all the other devices out there. You have your phone always with you and it’s not something you forget.”
Argus also connects with a few devices at present: wristworn heart rate and step trackers LifeTrak and New Balance LifeTRNR, as well as Withings connected weight scale. Kuhar said the company is looking into integrating with other trackers like Jawbone UP, Fitbit, and Nike+ FuelBand.
The tracking for food is more rudimentary — the user can take a picture of their food with the phone’s camera and select the food group that it’s in.
“It helps for people who just want to think twice before they eat,” said Kuhar. “Some users want to add more information and track exact calories, so we might add that in. But we also don’t want it to be too automatic. We want users to be in the app.”
Similarly, the app can track sleep on its own or through Azumio’s Sleep Time app, but if the user doesn’t have Sleep Time, they must manually enter when they go to sleep and and when they wake up.
Kuhar said that many of Azumio’s apps, like HealthyCloud, which had some similar functionality to Argus, are gradually being phased out. Their most popular apps — Instant Fitness, Instant Fitness Family, Sleep Time, Fitness Buddy and Instant Heart Rate — will remain available and most are already incorporated into Argus. The exception is Glucose Buddy, a workout app which the company acquired along with developer SkyHealth last year. Kuhar said that because Glucose Buddy has its own database and servers it will take a longer time to incorporate into Argus. Correction: An earlier version of this article suggested that Fitness Buddy was not integrated with Argus. It is.
When Azumio acquired SkyHealth, the company spoke about developing a mobile health and fitness platform. Argus looks to be the culmination of that plan and an apparent move away from more medical-related apps like HealthyCloud and Glucose Buddy, into a fitness and wellness focus.
“The future of bringing mobile health applications to a wider audience is here, and starts by creating a single source for the best mobile health and fitness solutions,” SkyHealth CEO Tom Xu said at the time. “Now, with Azumio, we have the resources and experience to create a mobile health and fitness platform that will impact hundreds of millions of consumers.”