The introduction of Google Glass to mainstream customers has made a lot of noise the past couple of months, but truth be told, how many of them have actually been sold? Also, rumors of a smartwatch from Apple seem to be a constant buzz, but again, where is it? While the big names are focusing on devices meant to add cool features like virtual reality to personal devices, other companies are focusing on the practical-wearable devices that actually do useful things right now. The most prevalent are wireless bracelet devices that do things like monitor heart rate, or take your blood pressure. And thanks to advances in biomechanical research, and microelectronics, you, and everyone you know, might soon be wearing such a device, known as a SmartSensor, sooner than you think.
One of the leading makers of such devices is Fitbit, a fob/bracelet system that tracks the amount of activity the wearer has (by monitoring heart rate and via motion sensor), how much they eat (must be input), how much they weigh (by connecting with a WiFi enabled scale) and how much sleep they get, also derived from heart rate. Future plans are to add an ability to read respiration rate, monitor bioelectric activity and at some point, automatically take blood samples and process them.
Phone maker Samsung is sensing a trend as well, they’ve launched a whole line of wearable sensors that take readings and then pass the data off to a smartphone for processing by an app.
But why would healthy people, especially those that are young ever chose to wear a wearable sensor? Because such devices will soon be part of what the health care industry is calling medical informics-up to the second data that describes the health and history of an individual. Imagine wearing a device that could offer your entire medical history to operating room doctors if you’re unconscious due to a car accident, or if you have asthma, diabetes or some other condition that could mean life or death in an emergency. Also imagine your device letting your doctor know if you’ve been taking medications as prescribed, if you drink a lot or smoke, or use illegal drugs. Wearable sensors will soon be able to track virtually every aspect of your health, and may soon transmit, via a smartphone, all that information to your doctor’s office. And you and everyone else will go along with it, because health insurance companies won’t pay for treatment, unless you do.