A number of years ago, I had an idea for a health monitoring device that would be embedded in your door frame. The idea was that you would go out the door in the morning and, as you passed over the threshold, you would be scanned and your vital statistics would be recorded and sent to you via e-mail. If anything were really amiss, the same e-mail would also go to your physician.
I think I was on to something but my vision has been surpassed by devices currently being developed and coming on to the market. Now, you have constant monitoring and constant feedback. It is no longer a single snapshot like my doorframe idea. In this post I would like to focus on technology that will help you get fit, stay fit, and be healthy.
Imec is a research firm based in Belgium. They are working on developing and commercializing nanotechnology that can be used in health monitoring. They are developing systems on a chip that will help you track your blood characteristics and transfer that information to an intuitive user interface on your smart phone. If you are concerned with the results, you can then share that information with your physician at the touch of a button. They are expanding their research and products to develop a body area network. This may well be the next evolution of the wide area network (WAN) and the local area network (LAN). Watch a great video showcasing their research.
Moticon is a German firm that has developed a product that gathers information about your step, your gait, and your foot temperature via sensors in a shoe insole. The information can then be transferred via Bluetooth to a smartphone for analysis. While this is primarily targeted towards people recovering from a leg injury it can be helpful in monitoring stressors and body alignment for athletes, particularly runners.
Nuubo is a Spanish firm selling a small wearable device that provides a running electro cardiogram to help monitor your heart rhythms and other vitals. The data can be collected and assessed remotely via a smartphone or tablet. This is a great product for cardiac patients being treated off-site for heart conditions such as arrhythmia. It is also a great tool for athletes and trainers so they can understand the implications of peak and sustained performance.
Google Smart Contact Lens
Google is developing a contact lens that would monitor glucose level via tears. Once released as a product, this would be a welcome relief to those with diabetes that now monitor their blood sugar via a pin prick, sometimes multiple times a day. This is a great development and a unique use of technology to ease discomfort to those affected.
Climbax is a new product out of the UK that is designed for monitoring performance of rock and ice climbers. These same products have been available for cyclists and runners for years but are new for climbers. The device consists of a pair of bracelets with embedded sensors. The bracelets are sealed to be impervious to water or chalk. When the climb is over, the athletes can then upload their climb to the Climbax website and store and analyze their performance. This will help them to adjust their methods and improve their climbing ability in the future. This product is just launching and is relying on Kickstarter funds to take the company into sustainable manufacturing.
Lumo Lift is a product from Lumo BodyTech that monitors your steps, mileage, and calories burned but even more importantly, it monitors your posture and gives you a gentle reminder, via vibration, if you slouch. It is a small, discreet monitor worn against your body via a magnetic clasp on your clothes that connects to a smartphone app. I like the steps and calorie monitoring, but I would hope that you would only need to be reminded about your posture for a limited time until it becomes second nature to stand and sit up straight. This product is just being introduced in a limited run.
This is a very exciting time in personal health monitoring. Some of the products being introduced seem like technology in search of an application, but overall the new products appear to be thoughtful in the way they address a genuine need. Such products can be used by athletes and concerned consumers, but they can also be used as part of a remote monitoring solution for health care patients. I believe that the proliferation of new devices is due to new and lower cost sensors and also to inexpensive Bluetooth and cloud technologies for storing this new information. Once the data is collected, however, we are still going to need smart analysts and smart application designers who can synthesize the data and make it useable to effect new and healthier behavior.
Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.