Wearable Health Tech You Need to Know About
It’s 2018, Amazon’s Alexa can answer all your deepest questions, self-driving cars drive the roads, there’s a 10th iPhone, and bitcoin might take over the world soon. Technology has changed the way we live our everyday lives for the better, and that doesn’t just stop at fun things, it also includes very practical, serious things like wearable health technology! In this post, we’ll explore some of the newest tech you can get your hands on to help keep you and your loved ones healthy!
If you want the biggest bang for your buck, look no further than basic fitness trackers. These emerged in 2007 with the advent of the Fitbit. Remember when having a Fitbit was all the rage in 2013? Remember having to get in those 10,000 steps every day? The industry has developed quite well for the consumer, with popular brands such as Fitbit, Letscom, and Garmin at prices as low as $30! Standard features include a heart-rate monitor, sleep monitor, step counter, and calorie counter. Higher-end models can have a GPS tracker, and a Bluetooth connection to import your data to your smartphone!
The Fitbits of 2013 were a smash-hit, and big tech companies took note. For a higher price, you can now get a smart-watch, which has a lot of the same capabilities as a smartphone! In terms of health-tracking, smartwatches are just a glorified fitness tracker, more bells and whistles, same capabilities. Extra non-fitness-related features include phone notifications, sending texts, making calls, make NFC payments (Apple pay, Samsung pay, etc.), searching the internet, playing music, viewing photos, etc. Products from Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, Fossil, and more have products with prices ranging from $90 to $800.
Detecting whether atrial fibrillation is occurring in your heart can make the difference between life and death. Now, instead of going to the hospital when you feel like your heart is jumping in your chest, you can check using a mobile Electrocardiogram. Some wearable heart-rate trackers can automatically detect when atrial fibrillation is occurring, including products from Qardio, KardiaMobile, and Bodimetrics, ranging from $100 to $500. Some connect to your phone by Bluetooth, others have independent displays.
Breast Cancer Detection
The annual mammogram that women need to get is notoriously uncomfortable. Soon, it may become unnecessary. ITbra by Cyrcadia Health uses thermodynamic sensors to track temperature fluctuations over long durations of time to determine a user’s circadian thermorhythm. Data from a USB is uploaded to a computer, disruptions in these rhythms could indicate early-stage breast cancer. This product is slated to be released in the coming months.
UV rays break the DNA strands in your cells, which increases your chance of skin cancer. L’Oreal recently came out with a battery-free UV sensor that you put on your fingernail to measure UV radiation throughout the day. The data can be viewed on your smartphone after uploading the data through your phone’s NFC chip. The phone app will help identify when you typically receive too much UV radiation and will recommend times to apply sunscreen, or step in the shade throughout your day. This piece of tech is slated to come out by the end of 2018.
Being stressed out during the day is common for most adults. By measuring electrodermal activity in your skin pores and blood levels, devices can report your stress levels. Many high-end smartphones, Samsung and Apple, can measure your stress the same way using a finger-sensor. One device, named Pip, will measure your stress and walk you through how to destress at the moment! Prices start at $50.
Blood Pressure Monitor
Tired of going to the drug store to check your blood pressure? Say no more, now you can test your blood pressure using a small watch-like device with a digital display for as low as $25. You can also get Bluetooth-connected devices with apps to track your blood pressure, but you’ll need to shell out around $100 for one of those.
Body Heat Monitor for Children
Measuring your core body temperature can be very important. Babies with unusually high or low core body temperature can be a sign of illness, and it can be hard sometimes to tell whether your baby’s temperature is irregular. There are tons of tech products to measure body temperature, with prices ranging from $30 to $300. The simplest models are basic thermistors that show body temperature when applied to the skin. Higher-end models, like the Owlet Smart Sock, can connect to your smartphone and measure pulse-rate, oxygen levels, and warn you if your baby’s levels don’t seem right. Similar products exist for adults by brands such as Ankovo, Braun, and more.
Blind Assistance Glasses
One company, Aira, provides its blind customers with special glasses that have a camera and an earpiece. When the customer needs help with anything visual, he/she can simply call an Aira employee through the app, and the employee can help them with anything from ordering food off a menu to finding a place to sit! The Aira employee sees everything the customer sees through the glasses and relays information through the headset! Prices range from $89 to $329 a month depending on your usage.
One thing to keep in mind with health-tech is that there are a lot of scams out there. Some tell-tale signs of a phony product are unrealistic body measurements (mood sensor, love-meter, etc.), bad (or no) customer reviews, and unrealistically low prices. It’s always best to do a quick Google search on any healthcare-related tech item you buy to find customer reviews. Youtube is great for unboxing and demo videos! If a product is FDA-approved, that’s usually a sign that it’s not a scam.
The potential implications of these and other health technologies are immense. From a preventative-care standpoint, these devices have the potential to completely change the discussion. You can now monitor your vital signs from home, 24/7, providing an extremely powerful tool for you and your doctor to use.
Not sure if you want a device? Just buy a $20 fitness tracker this holiday season for a friend or family member, and see if they like it! If they do, you’ll probably like it too!