Wearables and health: technology that takes care of you
What is eHealth?
Information and communication technologies (ICT) have also entered the healthcare arena, where they are used for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of patients. The term eHealth is used to refer to this set of technologies.
Mobile applications and wearable devices are two of the products that contribute to this ‘revolution’ in healthcare.
The importance of monitoring
What better than a device that we wear on the body or clothes – and which therefore accompanies us all day – to monitor our vital signs and other aspects such as hydration, blood sugar level, temperature or heart rate. In fact, “consolidated studies exist on several wearables which show that they improve the management of atrial fibrillation and other arrhythmias,” according to cardiologist Domingo Marzal.
Wearables are not only used to assess their user’s physical state. They can also prevent common health problems. Smart watches are increasingly cooler and with a wider variety of functions – such as counting steps, calculating calories burned, our rhythm when running, the depth of sleep… Such devices are present in a huge number of homes already. But there’s a lot more to discover. Here we share some examples of wearables that have been designed to take care of us and our loved ones. We present you with smart clothing.
Pajamas are a common garment in the world of wearables. Indeed, designs and prototypes already exist for babies and for patients with dementia. There are also specially designed pajamas for athletes, such as the Athlete Recovery Sleepwear collection, from the Under Amour brand. These pieces promise to help the body recover quickly while providing a better-quality sleep. To do this, they take advantage of a type of infrared energy. This is accompanied by the UA Record app, with the aim of monitoring sleep, training and activity.
Neviano UV Protect bikinis and swimsuits
The Neviano UV Protect swimwear collection is equipped with a sensor that warns wearers to apply cream so as not to burn in the sun. It does so via an app in which the user must first specify their skin type. The application keeps track of the temperature and warns you when you need to apply sunscreen again or even spend some time in the shade.
Siren Smart Socks
These smart socks created by the company Siren Care are designed for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The garment includes temperature sensors and detects inflammations in the feet. If there is an anomaly, an alert is sent to the patient’s phone through a previously installed app.
Owlet Smart Sock
More socks! This time, with the Owlet Smart Sock. This garment monitors the heart rate of babies and helps to identify irregularities in sleep, respiratory diseases and heart defects. The socks sync with any smartphone to report data in real time.
Infant Care System Bracelet
Infant Care System is another wearable specially designed for babies – this time a bracelet designed to help prevent sudden infant death. The bracelet monitors blood oxygen levels and heart rate. Developed by the company Apno Systems, this device sends an alert to a parent’s mobile phone via Bluetooth when it detects something strange. You can also give the baby a small electric shock to stimulate their heart rate.
The Embrace bracelet is a device developed to monitor seizures in people with epilepsy. When it detects an attack, it communicates with the Alert app – installed on a mobile phone – and alerts caregivers through a call and a text message.
New devices based on graphene
One of the obstacles that some smart devices have yet to overcome is that of being invasive or bulky. Another challenge to combat is the ability to monitor only a limited number of vital signs. Graphene presents a solution to all of these limitations. A highly flexible and transparent material, graphene can be used to make adaptable non-invasive optical sensors that can measure a broader set of vital signs.
At the last Mobile World Congress (MWC), the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO), Barcelona, presented two patches made with this material. One allows users to monitor their levels of solar exposure thanks to an ultraviolet light sensor. The other is a fitness activity sensor that allows us to measure our heart rate, hydration levels, oxygen saturation, respiration and temperature. The patch can emit alarm signals when the data moves too far away from a certain level.
Predict the arrival of the virus in real time
The use of wearable devices that measure heartbeat and sleep patterns could lead to real-time flu prediction, according to a study published in The Lancet on January 16. Research shows the potential of data from these devices to improve monitoring of infectious diseases such as influenza and other similar viruses.