In the time of a global health crisis, wellness and health is more at the centre of everyone's consciousness than ever before.
With some hospitals and surgeries filling back up with COVID-19 patients, it is more important than ever both to keep on top of our health, and to avoid inundating doctors and healthcare professionals with visits — if they can be avoided.
Supporting those with daily afflictions that cause disruption to everyday life is a key part of many scientific projects in the medical industry, and here we have identified seven health-tracking wearables that you can use on yourself or your loved ones at home.
1. WEARABLE GAIT SENSOR PROVIDES IN-HOME PHYSICAL THERAPY
The MANA 2.0 is almost as accurate as the best clinical gait monitoring mats and allows clinicians to track patients’ spatial foot placements from afar. Developed by Dr Boyd Anderson and his team at the National University of Singapore, it incorporates the combined accelerometer and gyroscope that current wearables tend to use. The system also uses ultra-wideband radio sensors that monitor how far apart the wearer’s feet are when walking.
Patients attach two sensors to each shoe and then go about their daily lives. The data gathered is sent to the accompanying app, through which clinicians can monitor progress and assess each person’s regular level of activity. Not only does the MANA 2.0 help patients to better reflect on their level of fitness and how it can be improved, but it allows them to reduce the number of trips required to a healthcare setting. With social distancing requirements likely to remain in place for the forseeable future, this will help keep busy clinicians safe, and provide a high quality of continuity of care.
2. REMOTE RESPIRATORY MONITOR TRACKS COVID SYMPTOMS AS PATIENT SLEEPS
Turtle Shell Technologies is rolling out its contactless health monitoring system, Dozee, to quarantine centres and hospitals across India. Based in Bengaluru, the company has spent five years refining the technology that goes into the monitor. The slim sensor sheet fits under a typical mattress and connects to wifi in order to capture early health warning signs, such as changes to heart rate and breathing and sleeping patterns.
The system works by tracking micro-vibrations produced by the body and uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to build a comprehensive picture of each individual’s baseline statistics and overall health profile. The goal of Dozee is to help patients access a diagnosis or checkup before a condition deteriorates. The system meets the clinical 98.4 per cent accuracy required for use in medical settings.
3. HAPTIC ARMBAND AIDS NAVIGATION FOR THOSE WITH SENSORIAL DISABILITIES
Sensory technology company Tuso Haptics’s first product is the Aro haptic band, which is designed to help people with sensorial disabilities navigate city streets. Designer Alvaro Millan Estepa launched the startup after an encounter with a blind skateboarder, and the band has proven so successful it is now being developed for use by fully-sighted people when driving, whether that be on a scooter, a motorbike, car or bicycle.
Made from recycled materials and co-designed with people who have little or no sight, Aro’s alerts feel like soft vibrations. The band’s basic instructions are left, right, forward and an emergency stop alert. The vibrations vary in frequency, intensity and location in order to provide on-the-go information. Testers used a 3D-printed map simulating typical public situations and spaces and the results were overwhelmingly positive.
4. AI-ENABLED WEARABLE MONITORS ASTHMA
Design engineering student Anna Bernbaum won a runner-up Dyson Award for her wearable device that can alert asthma sufferers to an upcoming attack. The device, dubbed Afflo, works by analysing the users’ respiration and the environment to determine possible triggers for an attack.
Afflo uses a specialised microphone to collect respiratory audio signals. The microphone is placed on the chest each day, using adhesive disks. Environmental information is also collected, using sensors worn in a backpack or belt loop. The two streams of data are then analysed using a machine learning algorithm and the results are sent to the user via a mobile app. The goal is that once users know the type of situations and environments that tend to trigger asthma attacks or difficulty in breathing, they can take steps to limit their exposure. Data can also be reviewed remotely by medical professionals, allowing them to refine treatment plans more cost-effectively.
5. A WEARABLE TRACKS KEY METRICS TO IMPROVE SLEEP
The startup Beddr has developed a wearable that promises to better measure your sleep, in order to improve its quality. The company has upgraded its tech to include further data and other services.
According to Beddr, around 45 per cent of people have chronic sleep issues. The SleepTuner uses a compact sensor, which sits on the forehead during sleep. The sensor measures metrics such as sleep duration, breathing, oxygen saturation, heart rate, position and more. Beddr also comes with a mobile app which provides data analytics, makes recommendations on how to improve your sleep, and includes a sleep coaching programme and targeted treatment options.
The company claims its sensor is the most accurate on the market, and its programme the most comprehensive.
6. WEARABLE DEVICE PREDICTS WHEN USERS NEED THE TOILET
Japanese company, TripleW, has developed a wearable to predict when users will need to go to the toilet. The device, DFree, is portable, and so can be worn anytime in the day or night, at home or out and about. It connects with an app via Bluetooth and tracks the user’s bladder status. A sensor is secured to the lower abdomen that can monitor bladder size changes through ultrasound technology. When necessary, it will remind the user to visit the bathroom through an app notification.
The design aims predominantly to help the elderly, the disabled, and children learning to toilet train. It could also be useful for people of any age who have difficulty in sensing when to go to the toilet.
7. BREATHING SENSOR REVEALS COGNITIVE AND EMOTIONAL STATE
US company Spire creates sensors for measuring breathing to empower people to take control of their mental and physical health. Users can attach it to the clothes they wear the most and it will monitor both breath and heart rate inflection points. Spire claims the Health Tag is the world’s smallest consumer tag. It’s also discrete and does not require charging, as its batteries last up to a year and a half.
After collecting data from the wearer, the Spire Health Tag uses advanced algorithms to classify the breathing patterns. These classifications are created based on data from laboratory studies relating to respiration and cognitive and emotional states. Having classified the breathing pattern, the Spire Health Tag can determine the wearer’s cognitive and emotional state. It relays this information to the wearer via an accompanying Spire app to help improve sleep, reduce stress and encourage an active lifestyle. In addition, the app allows users to view their progress metrics over time.
Written By: Holly Hamilton
5th November 2020