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Wearable Technology: The New Wave in Healthcare Monitoring

The rapid advancement in wearable technology as a response to the COVID pandemic, has been phenomenal for sci-fi enthusiasts. The market caught on fast to adapt and evolve existing technology to focus on user friendly interfaces, initially to help with patient monitoring and care. However, as new software and hardware is being rolled out, we can see that the long-term applications of wearable technology on healthcare is multifaceted.

As a Star Trek/ Star Wars fan, I dove quite happily into research for this post. For a ‘90s kid, the technology I read about, makes me shake my head in wonder at the world we live in right now. It’s encouraging to see the steps that are being made to ensure patients are actively engaged in their health and makes for improved compliance and collaboration with their physicians.

The top three innovations that really stood out, were:

1. The GoQii Health band

GoQii provides a dashboard that serves as an online health monitoring system. Along with its detection algorithm, it uses data captured from the GoQii Vital 3.0 Smart Band , which records and transmits real time information about a person’s temperature and pulse rate to the dashboard. They can also be synced to smartphones for remote monitoring.

With improved monitoring, we can detect the early signs of either a Covid infection or any other ailment, so that one can get access to early intervention and care as soon as possible. The bands and the online dashboard have been provided to the Nashik Police Force in Maharashtra, to enable them to work efficiently and safely in the face of the pandemic.

2. E- skin Technology

FMI survey states that the Electronic Skin market could perceive a substantial growth at 27.5% CAGR during 2018-2028. The key players in the market are Phillips, Viva Link, Xenoma and X-sensi.

E- skin or electronic skin is a stretchable, flexible, durable material, impregnated with sensor-based technology that can monitor and attempt to mimic the human skin’s capability of responding to environmental changes like temperature and pressure. The delivery system has ranged from adhesive patches to clothing. Here, it merges wearable, durable (and machine washable!) clothing with IOT systems for data-based monitoring and decision making.

This has tremendous potential for remote monitoring of high-risk patients, even detecting activity levels, sleep and breathing patterns and heart rates. Some have fall alerts, for the elderly and patients of dementia or Parkinson’s syndrome.

Japanese based, Xenoma, won the CES (Consumer Electronic Show) 2020, Innovation Award for their e-skin smart apparel technology, even collaborating with fashion giant Hugo boss to develop a stylish e-skin ensemble for golf players.

3. Smart Ring Technology

Finnish based company, Oura has created a smart ring, which again uses PPG (Photoplethysmography) to track sleep patterns, pulse (resting heart rate and heart rate variability) respiration rates, activity and calorie burn, in order to give an overall view of a person’s health and well-being. Data can be transmitted to smart phones and linked to applications like Apple Health or Google Fit for easy monitoring.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has commissioned the use of these smart rings for their players, when the basketball season commences in USA this year.

While the pandemic rages on, it is clear that necessity is the mother of invention. The evolution of wearable technology has been the silver lining, in an otherwise bleak year. Its short-term applications are tremendous in combating covid 19, mainly through active monitoring of vitals, to detect changes early enough for early diagnosis and interventions, aiding in public health strategies. Yet even more exciting, are the long-term applications this technology will have in the healthcare industry and the preventive health space. In the words of Mr. Spock, maybe we actually will “Live Long and Prosper.”

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