Never before have we been able to monitor our own health and well being and take proactive steps to keep ourselves in the optimal range of health.
Technology, and specifically wearable technology, continues to introduce innovations that push the boundaries of our relationships with ourselves and our health system.
Out of all of the advances, a few key areas stand out.
1. Sleep Aids
The wearable market is continuing to grow and is expected to surpass $7.9 billion by 2020. In addition to features like heart rate monitoring and step tracking, consumers are monitoring their sleep patterns with smart watches.
Nobody would doubt the role of proper sleep in maintaining good health, and now there are a variety of tools that monitor and provide real-time feedback on sleep patterns.
Smart watches like Fitbit and Omron Zero will track your sleeping patterns via a watch and integration with an app. Once they have some data, these smart watches will provide analytics on your sleep and advice on achieving a more optimal sleep.
Some technologies are currently developing active feedback sensors that attach to a wearable headset to play calming music when sensors detect you stirring.
Rehabilitating your muscular or skeletal system with an aid was always thought to be science fiction, but new companies like Neofect have developed tools that blend gaming elements into smart gloves and smart boards.
Through the introduction of gaming elements, patients engage with rehab in a more active way, leading to a faster recovery time.
3. Blood Sugar
Diabetes is a field that has benefited from wearable technology. Rather than carrying a blood glucose testing kit, manufacturers have packaged the entire set into a smart watch.
With the press of a button, a microneedle inserts under the skin and gathers the information about blood sugar levels. The watch then displays the information on the watch face and uploads the data to a companion app.
This medical area has seen a lot of development. One device recently developed is a continuous temperature monitor. A temperature monitor is a digitally enhanced patch placed on a patient to provide continuous feedback for the caregiver or doctor.
Temperature monitors are seeing greater penetration in hospitals because many devices can link to a monitor, allowing doctors and nurses to track real-time temperatures of an entire floor.
With this device, healthcare professionals will be able to catch temperature spikes before they become an issue.
5. Pain Management
An interesting application of wearable technology is in the field of pain management. One company has developed an active monitoring and feedback system based on electroencephalogram (EEG) readings.
The system monitors a patient’s EEG and when it senses discomfort or pain levels, it generates content on a connected tablet to distract the user from the pain. Clinical trials have reported a high level of satisfaction with the technology.
Virtual reality has many applications in healthcare, from training doctors in advanced surgical techniques, teaching students the basics of anatomy, all the way to applications in pain management or doctor and patient communication.
When VR integrates into surgical systems themselves, it would be possible to perform remote surgeries in hard to reach areas or climates.
Wearable technology will continue to make advances and move beyond simple monitoring devices. When the full integration of smart technologies and smart phones is paired with secure monitoring networks, we will see real-time proactive healthcare the way it has been imagined.
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