Wearable technology devices that monitor overall health and track signs and symptoms of medical conditions are becoming a very hot commodity. These devices, which give patients more agency and provide medical professionals with more accurate and current data, are expected to be one of the biotechnology innovations that will most significantly impact the development of the entire health care field over the coming years. Check out the following eight most recent, and most amazing, devices to hit the market:
Integrated Positioning and Communication System (IPCS)
Leveraging wireless Bluetooth and SaaS technologies, IPCS from 9Solutions is a locating system that allows doctors to track and monitor both people and equipment in real time. The application platform works with mobile phones, and it can serve a variety of purposes, such as protecting isolated medical personnel who might need assistance while working, allowing health care patients to call for medical assistance more easily, and storing a user’s personal activity profiles and sending an alert to caregivers if profiles differ too greatly from a user’s long-term activity level.
Companies like AiQ Smart Clothing are merging electronics and textiles to create fashionable and functional garments that provide health data on whoever is wearing them. One of their products, appropriately dubbed the “BioMan” T-shirt, features ribbed “smart sleeves” that can monitor the wearer’s skin temperature, heart rate, and respiration rate. Wearers can further customize the t-shirt to measure electrophysiological signals like electromyography (EMG) or EKG readings.
Aesthetics were an important part of the development of Karten Design’s Metria wearable sensor, which is a wireless sensor that people can wear comfortably 24 hours a day for a full week. It tracks health information like breaths per minute and number of hours slept and transmits the collected data to a user’s or caregiver’s smartphone. While most previous wearable sensors looked like bandages, which were unappealing to users given their associations with injury and weakness, Metria’s design is inspired by athletic and fitness apparel, which has proved more acceptable to end users.
The German telehealth company BodyTel has created a number of devices that patients can use for diagnostics or health monitoring in the comfort of their own homes. Devices include scales, a blood pressure meter, and a blood glucose meter, each with a built-in Bluetooth module that automatically transmits results to a “base station” in the user’s home, which in turn transmits the data to a secure online database. Medical personnel can view the data and advise the patient accordingly.
Electroactive polymer technology
Electroactive polymers are polymers, or large molecules, that change in size or shape when they are electrically stimulated. This property makes them ideal for use in sensors, which is exactly the application that interests a group of Danish companies working on PolyPower, a proprietary material that acts as a wearable sports sensor. The design features a combination of electrical connections and stretch sensors made of PolyPower. The sensors measure displacement on or close to the body (like breathing, posture, and swelling), and from this date, it can produce accurate and repeatable readings on everything from stance to force.
Wearable EEG headset
Belgian company Imec is imagining that integrated wearable systems will be a key component of how health care is managed in the future. Its wearable electroencephalography (EEG) headset combines with an EKG patch to monitor both brain and heart activity. The data is then stored in a centralized system or transmitted to a smartphone.
Integrated, wireless sensor insoles
German motion analysis sensor company Moticon has developed the first fully integrated, wireless sensor insole in the world. Usable in any type of footwear, the insole measures distribution and motion parameters. So far, the sensor is most often used by athletes for training analysis and performance improvement. It is also used by rehabilitation patients. However, its applications aren’t restricted to the Earth: astronauts use the insoles to analyze their balance and movements and provide valuable insight into the long-term effects of space travel on the human body.
Muscle contraction sensors
TMG-BMC’s muscle contraction (MC) sensor is an effective way to directly and selectively measure muscle mechanics and provide feedback on individual muscles, thus helping wearers monitor muscle fatigue under different conditions. This kind of direct, selective muscle assessment has many potential applications in rehabilitation monitoring, training optimization, and injury prevention.