The Wearable Technologies That Change The Patient Experience
Did you know that the first wearable computer emerged in 1960? Created by two scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Edward Thorp and Claude Shanon, this groundbreaking device was ingeniously concealed within a shoe, designed to aid in predicting the trajectory of a roulette ball during gameplay. Although the design successfully predicted game outcomes, hardware issues limited its application to more intricate probability problems.
R&D in wearable technology has developed consistently since that first invention, and found its spot in a variety of fields, especially in healthcare, where this kind of devices have turned out to be highly useful for monitoring and illness prevention.
Wearable Health Tech, Time evolution of R&D on the topic. Source: Linknovate
The inaugural foray into wearable health tech occurred in 2009 with the release of the Fitbit Tracker. Developed by the company Fitbit under the leadership of James Park and Eric Friedman, the device functioned as a rudimentary step counter. Although the initial Fitbit Tracker may seem basic by today's standards, it was a trailblazing innovation at its launch. Over the years, continuous improvements have transformed this basic design into the sophisticated digital and automated watches that have become integral to our daily lives.
One of the first Fitbit on the market. Its main function was as a step counter. Source: Ebay
The evolution of these devices has reached points almost unimaginable for those early designs: today, these small mechanisms can provide a large number of benefits for healthcare professionals and individuals providing a simple and remote way to track body parameters.
To highlight the inspiring progress of this sector in terms of improving public health, at 4YFN we would like to present 5 portable health devices that are revolutionising the innovation market and that you cannot miss.
5 WEARABLE HEATLH TECHNOLOGIES
Catapult GPS presents a revolution for high-performance athletes, particularly those involved in professional soccer. It’s a device consisting of a small gadget and an adaptable waistcoat that collects information about physical activity during matches or long training sessions. The waistcoat can measure many more indicators than a simple smart wristband would. For example, it detects player load, total work done during the activity, distance travelled, distance per minute, changes in direction, player speed and even the maximum speed that can be achieved based on current performance.
In this way, it is a technology that can help coaches and players themselves to detect when it is necessary to increase the level of training of the team or, on the contrary, to warn of those moments in which it is advisable to reduce the effort to avoid fatigue. In short, Catapult GPS helps to prevent player injuries by identifying when it is no longer possible to push players harder.
As far as smart rings go, the Oura Ring represents the latest innovation on the market. Its functions are very similar to those of the latest generation of smartwatches, but with the advantage that it is a much more discreet accessory. The new model, which belongs to the third generation of rings, provides information on the level of oxygen in the blood, the quality of sleep, the date of the next menstruation or the highlights of the activity carried out. In addition, it is compatible with different operating systems, so it is possible to send the collected data to Oura's own app, to Apple Health or to Google Fit.
The latest generation has a total of 7 temperature sensors, an infrared PPG system and red and green LEDS that ensure a very efficient collection of information. In fact, the NBA itself used the Oura Ring after the COVID 19 pandemic to detect if any of its players were infected by the virus.
The Oura’s app. Source: Oura Ring
The Ava Bracelet represents the latest in menstrual health and fertility tracking. It is a smart bracelet designed for women who are interested in monitoring their health while trying to conceive or better understand their own body's functioning. The device collects information during night hours not only on gestational health, but also on hormonal functions: it detects basal temperature, ovulation rate, respiratory rate, resting pulse, heart rate variability ratio and the level of perfusion, i.e. the distribution of blood to the tissues.
RODS & CONES’ SMART GLASSES
Rods and Cones' issued smart glasses that are linked to a remote assistance platform: users can connect with an assistant or medical professional anywhere in the world in real time.
With smart glasses, surgeons can have non-face-to-face medical support from other healthcare professionals. Source: Rods & Cones’
These smart glasses are employed in the healthcare sector to allow any surgeon, wherever they are located, to connect in the middle of an operation with the medical staff present to advise and assist them during the intervention. It allows higher cooperation among professionals and brings the development of remote surgery a step further.
DEXCOM’S GLUCOSE MONITOR
Dexcom's glucose monitor is the market leader in diabetes technology: it is a sensor capable of measuring blood sugar continuously and in real time, targeted at people who have difficulty controlling it automatically and metabolically. In the event of any type of alteration or unexpected change, the sensor warns the individual so that they can avoid completely unexpected hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia.
The brand offers a wide range of devices, each focused on the treatment of a specific type of diabetes or condition. In addition, each features real-time detection, high accuracy in measuring results, as well as personalised alerts for the user.
Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitoring. Source: Dexcom
In the rapidly evolving landscape of wearable health tech, innovation has ushered in transformative changes for both patients and healthcare professionals. From its humble beginnings in the 1960s as a hidden predictive device for gaming, wearable technologies have now become invaluable tools in the realm of public health. This revolution has reshaped the way health is monitored and managed, contributing significantly to improving the quality of life of many.
If this overview of wearable tech innovation in Healthcare sparks your interest, we invite you to come by the Digital Health zone at 4YFN and meet promising companies innovating in the field. To know more about our Digital Health programme, click here.