Health accessories for iPhones, iPads, and iPods have become more numerous and diverse over the years, evolving from Apple’s early Nike+ run sensors to heart rate monitors, increasingly complex Wi-Fi scales with body fat and ambient room sensors, blood pressure cuff docks… and even Bluetooth toothbrushes. Some health accessories are undeniably useful, but others raise the question “why?” — why pay more to see my weight on an iPhone rather than the scale’s built-in screen? Why track daily tooth brushing, body fat percentages, or the humidity of one’s bathroom? People survived for thousands of years without charting every seemingly minor blip on their personal radars.

My perspective changed last month when my wife was diagnosed with a serious cardiac condition. One of those “seemingly minor blips” that can now be constantly monitored is your heartbeat, and when something’s wrong with your heart, advance knowledge literally makes the difference between living or dying. As it turns out, a San Francisco-based company named AliveCor is now on its third-generation version of an iPhone accessory that helps people with cardiac conditions. The AliveCor Mobile ECG ($75) is an FDA-approved electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor that can record and share your heartbeat directly from your iPhone. Measuring roughly 3.2″ by 1.3″ by 0.2″, Mobile EGC can self-attach to your iPhone’s back, or integrate with a bundled custom iPhone 6/6s case for only $80 (there’s an iPhone 5/5s case, too). Given my family’s sudden need for quick access to ECG data, keeping it with an iPhone makes sense, as this is an accessory we’ll want to have on hand whenever it may be needed…

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