For all the efforts made in marketing luxury wearables, like the Apple Watch or Samsung Gear, it is in the healthcare industry that wearable tech has more comfortably found its place. Fitness trackers have become fairly ubiquitous, and the concept of a device that can track the wearer’s health has rapidly gained traction.
Wearable tech could have life-saving applications, too. Building on the simple heart rate monitor, wearables can now track everything from temperature to blood sugar levels, and we took a look at four that could have potentially life-saving uses.
Google Contact Lens
Formerly a division of Google X, Alphabet’s recently renamed division Verily - changed from Google Life Sciences - is working with the remit of ‘[bringing] together technology and life sciences to uncover new truths about health and disease.’ Alphabet is looking to be at the forefront of a world in which technology works alongside healthcare, to not only treat but monitor conditions.
Verily’s contact lens is only at prototype stage at present, but the creation of the dedicated arm of Alphabet bodes well for its eventual fruition. The lens, which is fitted with miniature sensors and radio antenna thinner than a human hair, can track glucose levels in the wearer’s tears, and by extension their blood. Diabetics could monitor their blood sugar levels on a smartphone app, be given warnings when it drops below a certain level and generally be more informed as to their condition. According to Wareable, Google have a deal in place with Novartis to make the lens, meaning it is only a few hurdles from becoming a reality.
Despite the well-known link between exposure to sunlight and skin cancer, many are still dangerously under-informed as to their own level of risk. Netatmo’s June is a bracelet that monitors how much sunlight the wearer has been exposed to during the day, warning them when the exposure reaches a dangerous level.
June, like most wearables, links to an app on the wearer’s smartphone, and will advise the wearer as to which strength of suncream they should be using, how long before they should retire to the shade and when it is necessary to wear a hat and sunglasses. Many would, perhaps, consider the wearer capable of determining these things themselves, but the bracelet is stylish enough so as to be a holiday accessory first, and a health monitor second.
Where Google’s Contact Lens and Netatmo’s June are invisible and stylish respectively, SiDLY Care is one of the most functional healthcare wearables on the market. The Polish-developed device has already been approved for use in hospitals all over Europe, including in the UK, and covers everything from heart rate and temperature to atmospheric pressure.
The band is built primarily for hospital use - function certainly comes before form - with lights and sounds to remind a patient to take medicine, a GPS chip to locate the patient in the hospital and an SOS button to alert staff to an emergency. The information collected is sent directly to a doctor’s device, and it is hoped it will simplify the process of caring for multiple patients at once.
Essentially, the Arc Pendant is a heart rate monitor. Worn around the neck, the device is well-placed to measure the wearer’s exertion and buzz if the heart rate is approaching a dangerous level. It will also track steps, calories burned and core body posture, as well as boasting a high definition microphone for accurate voice control of connected devices around the home.
Its secondary functions are what sets it apart, though. The pendant also acts as a navigation aid. Connected with an app on the wearer’s smartphone, the pendant will direct according to a map via buzzes - on the left or the right of its neck piece - nullifying the need for the wearer to be checking their smartphone. The feature will be particularly useful for cyclists, who will be able to navigate city streets without being too distracted by their tech.