A lot of the focus in wearable computing has been on delivering products that help everyday users monitor some of the more basic activity traits, such as steps taken and heart rate. While these are certainly useful metrics for health monitoring, they do not paint the full picture.
Computational biologists instead study the chemical changes that occur in people’s bodies with the help of optical sensors, non-invasive devices that use the red-to-near-infrared spectral region to assess the chemical changes that occur in the user’s blood vessels, among other places.
By leveraging this cutting-edge technology and wearable computing, we are equipped to understand the changes that occur in a person’s body at a whole new level. The implications of this change span from improved training of athletes to better management of chronic diseases and healthcare.
Some interesting recent cases in research that show the potential for disruption include:
Researchers at the National Technical University of Athens have helped individuals self-manage diabetes by stimulating the function of an artificial pancreas with fully embedded wearable systems. A paper in the Journal of Biomechanics shows promising results for wearables in athletic training. Scientists mapped out the physiology of athletes’ ski-jumps in order to determine the biological constraints of each individual’s approach. By comparing data across 22 different skiiers, the scientists were able to determine that the wearable system was a very promising tool for training that captured information beyond the capacity of a traditional camera.Researchers at Texas A&M University are investigating the use of optical sensors to interact with dermally-implanted microparticle sensors. This technology could enable cost cutting and continuous blood chemistry monitoring.Optical sensors used to monitor both athletic performance and overall health by researchers at the Dublin Institute of Technology. The sophisticated sensors interpret user’s sweat particles in order to deduce what is going on at a biological level. One of the sensors measured pH levels of sweat particles in order to deduce dehydration while athletes were running. This is a huge stride for activity tracking because it represents real time monitoring of athletic performance and biological signals
WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- WorldOne and Joslin Diabetes Center to Launch Diabetes HUB. Foremost experts to unite on diabetes focused online community-based learning and collaboration microsite.
How sensors are having a major impact on innovation and the competitive landscape for the life sciences industry (medical devices, diagnostics and pharma)..
Smartphones, with their portable computing power, built in sensors and always-on internet connectivity are continuing on their path to ubiquity, with over 56% of the US adult population now having smartphones, and over 500,000 new smartphone users being added every month. Sensor technology has continued to get cheaper, smaller and more sophisticated, with different types of sensors being combined to capture an increasing array of physiological measures.These sensors can be connected to smartphones via miniaturized, low energy via low energy wireless technologies such as low energy Bluetooth and Near Field Communication (NFC).
As the world population ages and more
Lightweight, wireless enabled sensor networks connected via smartphones to cloud/server based storage and applications make it feasible to continuously monitor physiological measures. This is enabling “aging in place” for the world’s rapidly aging population, allowing more older adults and individuals with chronic conditions to remain in the home environment while they are remotely monitored for safety.
Early Detection and Prevention
Data from continuous real time monitoring can be analyzed to provide early detection or in some cases prediction of changes in health status. This approach is being applied across a wide variety of conditions, including heart disease, epilepsy, parkinsons disease, stroke, dementia, and cancer.
Extending Therapies from Clinical Settings to the Home
Sensors capturing movement data can be particularly useful for home-based rehabilitation, often leveraging both wearable and ambient sensors to provide augmented feedback.
MedSnap’s Medical App To Improve Medication Safety for Patients
Medication and therapy regimens are only effective if patients adhere to them. Sensors can be applied to monitor adherence and provide inputs to systems designed to improve adherence through alerts, reminders, persuasive design and gamification techniques for patients, caregivers and therapists.
Management of Chronic Conditions
Wearable and ambient sensors can be an important part of an overall system to manage chronic conditions.
The number of wearable physiological sensors connected to smartphones are expected to grow significantly over the next 5 to 10 years. As the healthcare industry faces increasing pressure to improve outcomes while lowering costs, the ability to combine data from these sensors with data from other systems to measure treatment effectiveness will become more important, not just in clinical trials, but in the context of managing population health.
Companies that are proactive in using sensor technology together with other techniques to create and demonstrate superior effectiveness will reap significant rewards in this environment.
Use of an outpatient electronic health record at Kaiser Permanente Northern California was associated with significant decreases in emergency department visits and hospitalizations among patients with diabetes.
Ahead of our Mobilize event Oct. 16 and 17, we asked experts how 50 billion connected devices and 6 billion people change their industries. In this essay Dr. Christian Assad-Kottner explains what this means for medicine.
At EyeNetra, the startup he cofounded, goofy curiosities like plastic eyeballs line the shelves, and a 3-D printing machine whirs in the background. It’s printing out prototypes of a device that will attach to your smartphone and, in a minute or two, tell you what kind of eyeglasses you need.
The device, called the Netra-G, is based on some clever optics and software Pamplona came up with—a way to measure the refractive error of the eye using a smartphone screen and an inexpensive pair of plastic binoculars. The whole setup might cost a few dollars to make. It does the job of a $5,000 instrument called an autorefractor.
More important, just about anyone could use it. That’s where the disruption comes in—and the trouble. Right now, only doctors or optometrists can prescribe glasses or contact lenses. Pamplona, a brash Brazilian programmer who arrived in the U.S. a few years ago, thinks that won’t always be the case. “We’re changing medicine by providing the user the right to measure themselves,” he says. “We see doctors as more of a coach.”
From FitBit to Misfit, the market for wearable sensors is increasing dramatically - and not just for personal fitness and wellness.
New devices are being designed on an almost-weekly basis to help people manage chronic conditions, recover more quickly from injuries, analyze physical and environmental abnormalities that may lead to more serious health issues and detect unhealthy habits before they cause problems.