We've already seen a few portable electrocardiographs (ECGs), that let users monitor the electrical activity of their heart, wherever they may be. These devices can be used simply by people who are health-conscious, or by those who are at risk of heart problems. Researchers from Spain's Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya have just developed a system of their own, however, which offers something that most others don't.

Known as CardioSense, the technology can take the form of a stand-alone device, or it could be built into things such as smartphone cases, bathroom scales, steering wheels, or any other object that can be touched with both of the user's bare hands or feet at once.

Utilizing two metal contact plates, it's able to detect their electrocardiogram signal, which is the electrical signal generated by their heart as it beats. What sets it apart, however, is that it also measures the velocity of their arterial pulse wave. By analyzing the lag between the ECG signal (i.e: the heartbeat) and the time at which that wave reaches the hands or feet, it's possible to ascertain how well the heart is functioning mechanically, and how elastic the arteries are.

In less than 60 seconds, the device is claimed to provide a complete cardiovascular pre-diagnosis. According to the university, it can be used without the help of healthcare professionals, it doesn't require the application of any contact gels, and it can transmit its readings anywhere that there's mobile phone coverage.

CardioSense has already been patented in Spain, China and the US, and will be demonstrated at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.