(The Gist of Science Reporter) From Gimmicks to Lifeline — “Wearable Healthcare Devices”

(The Gist of Science Reporter) From Gimmicks to Lifeline — “Wearable Healthcare Devices”


From Gimmicks to Lifeline — “Wearable Healthcare Devices”

  • Wearable technology took great leaps and bounds in the healthcare 21st century with the launch of the Bluetooth headset in 2002, followed by the world’s first fully digital pacemaker Vitatron C-Series in 2003.
  • From 2006 to 2013, several wearable devices were released including the Nike+, Fitbit and Google Glass. FDA approved an ingestible digital health feedback system in 2012 developed by Proteus Digital Health. The highly popular Apple watch was launched in 2014 and has since been upgraded to include the latest sensors for improving data accuracy and precision.
  • Wearable devices help in continuous monitoring and data collection of health information in ambulatory settings in daily life as well as in clinical environments.
  • Using the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT), the device can communicate the data to a range of other devices, users and websites. This collected data is compared with existing databases through software platforms to provide a comprehensive understanding of the on-going health condition. The data thus collected can also help the doctors and physicians in assessing their patients and improve the diagnosis. 
  • Wearable Health Devices can be divided into two main categories according to the type of data collection: Activity monitoring and medical data (prediction, anomaly detection and diagnose support). 
  • Activity monitoring: It includes non-medical applications such as movement or footsteps and other self-monitoring applications.
  • Medical data: It collected include vital signs such as ECG, heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, blood oxygen saturation, blood glucose, skin perspiration, capnography, body temperature among others.
  • The complete solution includes a measuring device, a storage device or cloud platform and software. In other words, it includes a Body Area Network, Data Logger/Portable Unit and an Offline/Real-Time Monitoring system. The Body Area Network contains sensors for measuring the data in outdoor settings as well as in in-patient clinical settings. The data is collected, processed and communicated via a portable device. This data is stored in central databases and analysed by clinical practitioners.
  • Developing these devices comes with a lot of challenges. Data accuracy and consistency has been a major area of research and development for wearable devices. In a study carried out by the Alexandria University, Egypt and the Appalachian College of Pharmacy, Oakwood USA, it was observed that the accuracy of the major wearable devices was between 79.8% to 99.1% while the precision was between 4% to 17.5%. 
  • For measurement of complex systems, more functionality needs to be added such as better sensors, better battery capacities, reading capacities, etc.
  • Across the world, disease profiles are changing, hence, continuous monitoring of vital body conditions is becoming necessary, creating a demand for wearable healthcare devices. With increasing competition, the cost of the product is expected to come down, making them accessible to a larger audience.


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Courtesy: Science Reporter