2014 has been the year of wearing your health on your sleeve, literally. The advent of wearable tech combined with healthcare has seen the rise of tech giants lobbing for game, set, match on the digital health baseline. Whether it’s a watch that tracks your fitness and diet or apps that assist in everything from invasive surgery to physical therapy, here’s a roundup of the who and the what in wearable health this year.
About 95 million Americans used their mobile phones either as healthcare tools or to find health information. On top of that, it is estimated that 500 million consumers and healthcare providers globally will use a mobile health app within the next two years, according to data by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It’s also estimated that the number of mobile health apps will continue to increase by a rate of 25% each year which essentially means that by the year 2018, just a few years away, nearly half of the 3.4 billion mobile device users worldwide will download a health app. After all, your health is the best accessory you can wear.
The UP24 fitness tracker band tracks your activity and sleep 24 hours a day keeping record of everything from your steps, and physical activity, calories burned, hours slept and quality of sleep. The flexible wristband is made of medical-grade, hypoallergenic rubber that is latex-free and contains a processing core, battery, vibration motor, sensors and memory and can store up to nine months of data.
Features include the Smart Alarm™ that wakes you up at the optimal moment of your sleep cycle and if you are an office worker or sit more much of the day you can use the Idle Alert™ feature which gives off a gentle vibration at your wrist when you’ve been sitting for too long. The band is rain, splash, sweat, and shower-resistant but cannot be fully submerged liquid.
The OxiPatch, by OxiRate, is a wearable patch that monitors vital signs including heart rate, oxygen blood saturation, respiratory rate and physical activity. The OxiPatch can be positioned at nearly any location on the body and can monitor most vital signs at one point of contact.
The patch allows for 12-24 hours of continuous monitoring, working on wireless. It uses advanced signal processing algorithms to process the data collected to provide simultaneous identification of person’s health status or is sent to a cloud server for further retrieval, evaluation, and analysis. It monitors patients with complex conditions such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,) asthma, congestive heart failure, obstructive sleep apnea, as well as for post-chemotherapy patients and elderly.
The Fitbit range of wearables track your activity including steps, distance, calories burned, sleep quality, hours slept and log what food you eat. The Fitbit Flex™ wristband allows you to set up personal goals, automatically syncs your data to your devices and gives you real-time access to your stats on the Fitbit dashboard.
You can earn badges for reaching daily, weekly goals as well as compare stats and challenge friends and family. LED lights on the band show you your progress with each light representing 20% of your goal. The Flex also has the capability to connect with other health and fitness apps including My Fitness Pal and Lose It!
The Nike+ FuelBand is a wristband that tracks physical activity, energy required and calories burned. It measures whole-body movement and calculates results the same way for everyone, not taking into account body weight, gender or age. Data can be synced with the Nike+ app and allows wearers to set fitness goals, monitor progress as well as engage and compete with others. You can earn NikeFuel points and unlock achievements.
Imagine an app that could guide an entire surgery step by step. Well, app maker Droiders have created an app that combines segmented reality and wearable Google Glass to simulate the instruction of surgical procedures for teaching. The MedicAR application can be utilized to help medical students studying to become surgeons including everything from showing them where to cut, what tools to use, what to do next as well as the closure of the incision after the procedure.
The app places a temporary tattoo onto the patient’s skin which the surgeon or student then aims the Google Glass at. They will then see a display on the screen that will guide them through a given surgical procedure and its steps. Along with aiding trainee surgeons through common surgical procedures, MedicAR could help experienced surgeons with special procedures.