During a busy week for Japan's largest mobile phone company, NTT DoCoMo, it has emerged that the firm has plans to use the nation's ubiquitous phones as interactive health monitors.

An admission that future DoCoMo phones will include devices such as thermometers and blood-pressure meters appeared in Japanese business magazine Nikkei Electronics . It comes a week after NTT Data, another arm of the parent company, announced a limited trial that networked existing phones with external healthcare devices.

Healthcare craze

Given the highly competitive nature of Japan's saturated phone market, the admission - made by a spokesperson at the side of Monday's 904i series handset launch - is likely to spark a rush by other networks to provide similar features on future phones.

As with the home healthcare system we looked at recently, the new phone hardware will be networked to a central database that can be analysed to monitor long-term health. Because Japan has a rapidly aging population, there's no need for a crystal ball to predict the runaway success of the new phones if and when they arrive.