Can Wearable Devices Really Help You with Health Management?
Wearable devices mainly use built-in or additionally installed software to capture physiological signals and then feed them back to the wearer, which can quickly let the wearer know the current physical health information, especially with the development of smart phones. People can see the physical condition in real time and make timely adjustments. Wearable devices such as various health bracelets are becoming more and more popular, and they can be easily purchased in physical stores or online shopping, and more and more functions, ranging from step management, motion track tracking, sedentary reminder, calculation of calories, to dynamic heart rate monitoring, blood pressure measurement and sleep management, etc., various health management functions are becoming more and more diverse, but this has also made people curious, what is the difference between the physiological data monitored by a bracelet related to the hospital's precision instruments in management?
Published: May 30, 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of wearable technology and its role in healthcare. More than one-fifth of the U.S. population, equivalent to 70 million people, is expected to use a smart wearable device in 2021, as people monitor their own health behaviors during the pandemic, according to eMarketer estimates. Below are five of the most commonly used wearables.
Wearable Fitness Tracker
These bracelet devices are equipped with sensors to track the user's physical activity and heartbeat. Many fitness trackers provide health advice to the wearer by syncing to various smartphone apps.
Smart Health Watch
Once only used to count steps and time, smart watches have gradually transformed into a clinically feasible tool for health care, with Apple's push to integrate Apple Watch with health care. There are expected to be 45.2 million smartwatch users in the U.S. in 2021, and more than 50 million by 2024.
At Google I/O, which just ended, Google and Samsung announced that they would combine Wear OS and Tizen's smartwatch platforms into one operating system. Although most Wear OS watches don't really focus on health functions, with Google's inclusion of Fitbit and its strengthened cooperation with Samsung, the future is bound to strengthen the direction of smart health watches.
Wearable ECG Monitor
Wearable ECG monitors are at the forefront of consumer electronics. It measures an electrocardiogram, which in turn helps users track their heart rate and heartbeat, as well as measure other vital signs including blood pressure. For example: the FDA-cleared KardiaMobile 6L detects atrial fibrillation (AF), bradycardia and tachycardia; the DuoEK, which can be worn as a chest strap, can record ECG continuously for up to 15 minutes and can detect arrhythmias, cardiac arrest, atrial fibrillation and other early signs; VivaLNK designed for clinic and remote patient monitoring (RPM) applications.
Wearable Blood Pressure Monitor
Omron Healthcare launched HeartGuide in 2019, the first wearable blood pressure monitor. It measures blood pressure and daily activities. Over the past few years, Omron has developed more wearable blood pressure monitors to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive field.
Wearable biosensors are still in their infancy in terms of mass development and adoption, but they have the potential to revolutionize telemedicine. It can come in the form of gloves, clothing, bandages and implants. Creates two-way feedback between user and physician and enables continuous and non-invasive disease diagnosis and health monitoring through body movement and biofluids. For example: Philips Wearable Biosensor is a self-adhesive biosensor that measures heartbeat, respiratory rate, skin temperature, body posture, fall detection, single lead ECG, R-R interval (RR-I) and step count.
There are many types of wearable devices, including glasses type, watch type, wearable type, etc. At present, the products that have been commercialized are still mainly smart watches and smart bracelets.
Wearable devices such as smart phones and sports bracelets have already quietly spread in life. Wearable devices can be said to be the hottest topic in the technology industry today, but they are not products that have only been introduced in recent years. When it comes to the origin, it can be traced back to 1966, when the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States had already invested in wearable devices. Research on device products; even in 1972, a Japanese watch manufacturer launched the first watch with the concept of intelligence in history. However, limited by the information technology at that time, this watch only has simple calculation functions.
After that, many computer technology factories and mobile phone factories started to develop smart watches, but all of them were not well-received by the market due to the insufficient application of technology. Until 2014, after the computer company released the smart watch, it pushed the boom of mobile devices to the peak. Coupled with the rise of modern people's awareness of self-health, a series of popular trends of "wearing technology on the body" began.
Mainly Focus on Health Information Collecting
There are many types of wearable devices, including glasses type, watch type, wearable type, etc. At present, the products that have been commercialized are still mainly smart watches and smart bracelets. The purpose of smart bracelets is similar to that of smart watches. It mainly collects health information, such as recording calories burned, walking or running distance, recording sleep status, etc., or has reminder functions such as alarm clock, time, weather, finding mobile phones, etc. However, in addition to the above-mentioned functions set by the smart bracelet, the functions of the smart watch also have diversified functions such as calling, taking pictures, recording, and mobile payment; however, the smart bracelet has low power consumption, small appearance, and smart watches are usually more expensive because of the emphasis on batteries, panels and sensing functions.
Whether watches or bracelets, what kind of benefits do these wearable devices provide to people's lives? The main demands of such mobile devices are nothing more than the two main purposes of health protection and medical care. From the perspective of wearable devices, there are already smart bracelets, watches, etc., which are based on personal independent health management demands, and there are also some auxiliary medical instruments designed for medical treatment and nursing needs, which are usually used in telemedicine, remote monitoring, etc., allowing physicians to track the patient's condition, help patients treat at home, and assist in early recovery.
Personal Self-Health Management Is Widely Used
Most of the medical-grade products are dominated by hospitals or medical technology factories, and the development of products is relatively simple, and the focus is on precise diagnosis and treatment. This type of market is not as multifunctional as consumer electronic products, and must undergo clinical trials, repeated tests and modifications, and must also be certified by national health agencies, such as the US FDA.
It is understood that wearable devices currently used in medical care include implantable wearable medical devices such as brain nerve stimulators, gastric stimulators, cardiac defibrillators/electric shocks, and insulin syringes; other wearable devices such as personal emergency callers, pedometer, health bracelet, wearable defibrillator, etc.
It is worth watching for consumer-grade products, such as smart watches, health appeal bracelets, etc., which are quite popular now. The commonly used groups are mostly professional or amateur athletes, leisure and fitness office workers, etc., and they are still used in a personal way. Most of them are for health management.
It's just that among these wearable devices, there are still many products that emphasize that they can be combined with medical functions, and even focus on products that can measure blood sugar without measuring blood pressure or needles, but is the measure accurate? In June 2014, Iowa State University in the United States monitored different users of 8 smart bracelets on the market to observe whether these people would make the different measurement of the bracelet due to differences in personal body shape or different exercise conditions. Data becomes imprecise? It was found that there is a significant gap in the accuracy of the measured values, which also means that the wearable devices on the market still focus on autonomous health management functions, and there is still a gap to reach the stage of medical reference.
Whether it is a smart watch or a smart bracelet, although it can gather the user's own physiological information, it still cannot be interpreted by a doctor or used as a basis for treatment. After all, it still faces the risk of medical regulations.
Future Medical Research Is Worth Looking Forward To
Interestingly, with the rapid advancement of technology, in addition to the well-known entertainment and sports functions of wearable devices, many mobile phone manufacturers or technology companies have begun to develop research and development for medical rehabilitation. For example, a technology company in the United States has developed a retinal prosthesis device, allowing the visually impaired to implant electrodes in the retina, and then transmit the image signals captured by the camera on the glasses to the electrodes to stimulate the optic nerve; in addition, a technology company in Israel has also begun to develop eyeglasses that can recognize text and read aloud, helping the visually impaired to read.
Wearable devices are widely used in medical applications, but they are still in the testing stage and have not yet been commercialized. Just like manufacturers hope to launch smart contact lenses, sensors are embedded in soft contact lenses, and blood sugar is detected through tears, but it is still in the development stage. Regardless, these are making today's wearable technology increasingly miniaturized and moving toward life-changing convenience.
Not only that, the mobile phone manufacturer with the largest number of mobile phone users in the world has recently combined with large medical institutions to jointly develop application software, hoping to make the mobile phone platform a powerful tool to assist medical research. In the future, as long as users agree, they can access mobile phones Integrate third-party devices on the App to measure the user's physiological data, such as body weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and even the usage of the asthma inhaler. As long as the original GPS sensing function on the mobile phone is added, you can understand and master it. patient's condition. The accumulation of more such data, and further research and analysis, may help humans cure some unresolved diseases in the future. The latest health bracelet can even detect whether you have cancer. It is reported that researchers from manufacturers have designed a bracelet that can respond to cancer cells. In the future, if cancer can be detected through the bracelet, the cancer treatment has a considerable contribution.
The aging society has changed the medical needs. It is foreseeable that more professional medical accessories will come out one after another in the future, and the convenience of wearable devices will definitely meet the needs of modern people in medical treatment and self-health management. In the future, whether it is a bracelet, a watch, or even clothes, it may be equipped with a variety of sensors to read relevant health information, and then use the platform to operate and manage people's health in an APP mode. In the future, wearable devices must be more and more friendly, the data collected will become more and more diverse, and they will be able to provide doctors with accurate diagnosis and prediction, while making future life safer.