Aura Labs settles with FTC for inaccurate blood pressure app

Aura Labs has agreed to settle charges from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) relating to its Instant Blood Pressure (IBP) mobile application, which came under fire for claims that is was as effective as a conventional blood pressure cuff. The company also posted a five-start review from someone who did not disclose his affiliation with Aura Labs.

“For someone with high blood pressure who relies on accurate readings, this deception can actually be hazardous,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “While the commission encourages the development of new technologies, health-related claims should not go beyond the scientific evidence available to support them.”

IBP has been sold on the Apple App Store from June 2014 to June 2015, totaling $600,000 in sales. The product page claimed that the application, which had users hold a finger over the smartphone's camera while holding the base of the phone to their chest, was as effective as —and could even replace—conventional blood pressure cuffs. These claims were found to be false, and the app was much less accurate at reading blood pressure.

The FTC has imposed a judgement of $595,945, which has been suspended because of the Aura Labs’ inability to pay. If later found to have misreported its finances, the company will be liable for the full amount. The settlement also adds that Aura Labs and founder Ryan Archdeacon are barred from making unsupported claims and must disclose affiliations to any further product.