A range of health trackers and apps provide insightful body data that can go a long way in improving medical care and preventing illnesses.
With technology becoming more personal, affordable, on-the-go, and integrated with daily lives, ‘wearable tech’ has exploded world over. From smartwatches and virtual reality headsets to fitness trackers and holistic health monitoring devices, this segment of consumer tech is estimated to reach 929 million shipments by 2021, according to Statista. That is nearly double the number of wearable devices in 2017.
Smartwatches and wristbands are the most-selling devices in this category. While smartwatches are expected to nearly “eliminate” the need for smartphones, wristbands will come equipped with sharper health monitoring features that will enable doctors to better track a patient’s condition and arrive at critical insights from collected data. This will not only lead to quicker and more accurate diagnosis but might also preempt certain illnesses.
(Stories of the Apple Watch measuring heart-rate during sleep and helping prevent cardiac arrests have already done the rounds.)
Ramon T Llamas, Research Manager at IDC’s Wearables team, states in a report:
“The wearables market is entering a new phase. Since the market’s inception, it’s been a matter of getting product out there to generate awareness and interest. Now it’s about getting the experience right – from the way the hardware looks and feels to how software collects, analyses, and presents insightful data.”
YourStory drew up a list of five essential health monitoring wearables.
Pebble Health is a health-monitoring app built within Pebble Time smartwatches. It is for beginners and helps track activity and sleep patterns. It displays daily, weekly and monthly data on hours slept, calories burnt and distance travelled. The quality of sleep (deep or light) too is indicated through colourful charts.
It also has a smart alarm feature that can wake you up during the right sleep period. There is a life coach on the cloud who keeps you motivated and monitors your sleep and activity goals. Unlike Google Fit, though, Pebble Health does not support tracking on non-Pebble devices.
Zephyr BioPatch is a lightweight, wireless device that can be attached to a patient’s chest for continuous monitoring of heart rate, respiratory rate, activity levels, position and posture. It sends real-time data to doctors or nurses on their Android phones or smartwatches. This helps improve critical care in hospitals, and also allows remote monitoring of patients (after discharge) and timely medical intervention, especially in the case of cardiovascular anomalies. The device works in tandem with the Zephyr Life software, which sends out alerts and alarms if the patient’s condition is acute.
Muse is a brain-sensing headband that comes with forehead sensors, smart-sense conductive rubber ear sensors, and LED lights built in. The electroencephalography (EEG) sensors monitor the brain’s real-time activity during meditation and transmits those signals to smartphones or tablets via Bluetooth. The signals are then converted into audio by the Muse app and played to the user on the headphone. Its insights help users reduce stress and attain calm. Muse app also provides tutorial videos that show how to adjust the headband properly such that signals transmitted from the brain are accurate.
This is a smartphone-based ECG device that can attach to a phone case and monitor the condition of the heart on the go. The device, when paired with the AliveECG app, can capture a medical-grade electrocardiogram in 30 seconds. You can simply put your fingers on the sensors to capture the ECG. The heart monitor also tracks palpitations and stores relevant data that can be accessed by doctors during future diagnosis. AliveCor is typically used to detect Atrial Fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) in patients. The meditech startup was founded in California in 2011, and has raised more than $40 million so far.
The Forerunner 935 is a runner-specific device that offers great insights on their physical health and fitness levels. This GPS-enabled watch allows wrist-based heart-rate monitoring round the clock, and also packs in features like barometer, altimeter and compass. The most unique element is its nuanced analysis of training data. Garmin claims that the Forerunner 935 looks at the user’s recent training history and crunches that data to evaluate the amount of exertion done. It then notifies users of their training status and lets them know if they are overreaching or slacking off. The device also provides analytics for cycling and swimming, and hence, is a great buy for triathloners.