The world of wearables heading to the market today is practically limitless and exciting, with gadgets for all kinds of activities finding their way to the customers’ wrists, necks, chests and other body parts. A particularly interesting niche in this industry is healthcare: although heavily regulated by FDA and other authorities, this is the area where the impact smart devices have on users’ lives is the most significant.
Smart wearables are revolutionizing the traditional healthcare industry, allowing for much wider scope of patient data to be available to doctors and customers themselves. The main principle behind most of health-related wearables is to sense and track with maximum accuracy what hasn’t been tracked before. From how many times a patient coughed to how their glucose levels changed during the day, the precisely quantified data opens up limitless possibilities in personal healthcare and provides important insights about our bodies’ numerous indicators.
Apparently it does take time for healthcare wearables to make it to the wide audience, however there are already a few interesting ones available, and even more in the pipeline. In this overview, we put together some of the most exciting and unexpected devices that can make you feel better.
If you, same as many of us nowadays, have to sit at the desk for most of the day, you should be concerned about your posture and back health. Enter Lumo Lift, a tiny $80 wearable sensor to wear on your shirt, which will detect your posture and remind to stop humping your back. The companion smartphone app allows to calibrate the sensor and define the “perfect posture.” In addition to that, Lift tracks your activity, including steps taken and distance travelled, and calculates how many calories you’ve burned.
The “smart patch” created by VitalConnect is actually a biosensor with a disposable patch that can measure and track ECG, heart rate, respiratory rate, skin temperature and body posture, as well as count steps. Its aimed mostly at healthcare providers, allowing to increase quality of patient care. HealthPatch MD has a Bluetooth module and can be accessed from a mobile device to see the data in real time. It’s powered by one non-rechargeable zinc-air battery, which gives it up to 72 hours of working time.
Health Care Originals has created a most interesting concept of a wearable for people suffering from asthma. Its Automated Device For Asthma Monitoring And Management, or ADAMM, can track and count symptoms like cough, respiration, wheeze, and heart rate, as well as the use of an inhaler. The data is then analysed in the cloud, and recommendations are sent to the companion smartphone app. The latter can display data and alerts, remind the user about medication and track treatment plans.
Smart Contact Lens
In March 2015, Google was granted a patent for a contact lens that can make the lives of people with diabetes significantly easier. Currently there’s no good way to measure glucose levels but to prick your finger and analyse the blood sample. A contact lens with an embedded chip, patented by Google, could allow to use tears instead of blood to conveniently measure glucose levels any time. There’s no information on when (and if) the market will see an actual product, except that in 2014 Google licensed the technology to Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis.
“The Future of Beauty”
June Bracelet is a fashionable accessory and a useful healthcare wearable at the same time. The gadget, which cost $129 and is available in three colors, measures the wearer’s sun exposure and sends alerts via the companion app on your smartphone. It will tell when you should get your sunglasses on or apply some sun cream, helping avoid sunburns.
Take A Pill
One of the most unconventional wearable kits, the product developed by Proteus consists of a “sensor-enabled pill” and a “smart patch” that the patient has to apply on their chest. The information from the pill goes to the patch first, and then to the companion app, which can show some unique data about your body’s functioning. In addition to that, the patch is also able to track steps, activity, rest, and heart rate.
“Outsmart the pain”
An unusual $249 wearable to put around your knee, Quell provides stimulation and pain relief when you’re walking, as well as when you’re sleeping. Inside the band, there’s an electrode with silver pads that stimulates nerve clusters with adjustable current. With an iOS companion app, users can track therapy sessions, learn about their sleep quality over time and control different features of the device. The wearable is cleared by FDA for treatment of chronic pain. According to the website, “it is designed for people with painful diabetic neuropathy and other neuropathic pain, sciatica, fibromyalgia, and osteoarthritis among other conditions.”
The technology industry can already offer solutions for people concerned about their health and those suffering from different conditions. The exciting part here is that there’s definitely more to come, with many products being developed, tested and analysed as we speak. The increasing number of companies stepping in the niche of healthcare tech is a reassuring sign for everyone, from patients to hospitals and doctors, whose work is about to become easier and more efficient.