16 Jan CES 2018: Disruptive Innovations in Digital Health at the Forefront
The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, a high-tech showcase last week in Las Vegas, included the latest advances in digital health, suggesting promising avenues for treatment. Tech firms looked into cash in on a digital health industry estimated at about $200 billion annually in areas ranging from app-based diagnoses, to pain management and telemedicine. A growing number of startups focused on the brain with the goal of improving sports performance, aiding sleep, treating pain, anxiety, etc.
Gadgets that focussed on improving users’ health and well-being were in ample supply this year at CES. Neutrogena unveiled its SkinScanner, which attaches to an iPhone and syncs with the Skin360 app to help users assess their skin health from home. Swim.com and Spire Health Tag collaborated to design a “smart swimsuit” that could help swimmers track their water workouts. Philips launched a wearable headband to enhance sleep. Prevent Biometrics released a mouthguard that could detect concussions. Let’s take a closer look at the sensors, wearables and contactless devices showcased this year.
Keep your Sensors Closer
- L’Oreal UV Sense: Perhaps the tiniest wearable? The UV Sense measures UV exposure and can be worn on a fingernail, pair of sunglasses or any other item that’s exposed to sunlight. It’s reusable and re-adhesive, battery-free, and works with an app to help users be mindful of sun exposure.
- Sensio Air: This football-shaped allergen detector tracks grass, mold, pollen and dust inside your house so it can warn you when your allergies could act up. When you need to venture outside, the Air’s corresponding app connects with 220 sensors placed throughout the world by Sensio to measure environmental conditions like pollution and weather.
- Nima peanut sensor: Nima has made a version of its device that tells you if there are traces of peanuts in your food, helping peanut allergy sufferers so they can test their food before they eat it.
Gone are the days of wristbands and headbands for tracking and monitoring. The new trend is to use “contactless” devices that you can place near you or in your bed.
- Nokia Sleep is a pad that is places under your mattress, and deploys sensors and a mobile app to track heart rate, breathing patterns, and snoring. Algorithms make sense of the sensor data to give you a sleep score, and estimate how much REM sleep you get.
- SleepScore Max (from startup SleepScore labs) is also a contactless solution, but employs a device that sits on a nightstand and looks a bit like a Bluetooth speaker. The companion app asks some questions about alcohol and caffeine consumption to gain more insight into variables that can affect sleep. Then the device uses bio movement analysis (similar to echolocation) to determine quantity and quality of sleep, as well as monitoring environmentals like temperature. It aggregates that into a numerical sleep score as well as analysis of quality of sleep and phases. The company also aims to improve sleep patterns by curating and recommending products around lighting, pillows, and sound therapy based on the individual’s personal sleep data.
- For couples trying to get pregnant, fertility monitoring and figuring when is the optimal time of the month for conception can be a chore. EarlySense Percept is a device similar to Nokia’s sleep pad, in that goes under a mattress and monitors sleep patterns, heart rate, and breathing. Coupled with an AI algorithm, it monitors that data, which determines stress factors that over time are accurate predictors of ovulation cycles. The more the device is used, the more accurate the algorithm becomes, and has the ability to predict menstrual cycles three months in advance to help in planning.
Fitness Bands and Smartwatches
- For people who get nauseated easily from motion sickness, Reliefband Technologies is offering a drug free way to get relief. The device is a wristband that users can wear to counter nausea and vomiting symptoms from motion sickness, morning sickness, chemotherapy, and VR activities. A metal conductor in the band emits programmed pulses with highly specific waveforms, frequency, and intensity to modulate the median nerve on the underside of the wrist. This stimulation of the nerves uses the body’s natural neural pathways to block the waves of nausea produced by the stomach.
- Humon Hex, a watch wearable developed by a team at MIT, goes deeper than any wearable device till date. Rather than monitoring just the heart rate, it calculates oxygen consumption in the muscles to make real-time recommendations to the user. This reduces injury, optimises exercises and monitors the recovery process.
- Omron HeartGuide, Submitted for FDA clearance later this year, the HeartGuide is a fitness tracker that has a special band to take your blood pressure. The watch’s band inflates and it takes manual readings and spot heart rate measurements. It can also be programmed to take readings at night, which test for hypertension and risk of stroke while sleeping.
- Coros Pace, Built with triathletes in mind, the GPS-enabled Pace features dedicated modes for running, cycling and swimming. Coros also claims the watch lasts up to 30 days on standby mode, which is especially impressive for a wearable.
- Garmin Forerunner 645 Music, When it comes to fitness watches specifically, storing music is a novelty. But Garmin’s first music watch can store up to 500 songs, and also has GPS tracking, running-focused training modes and a digital payment system called Garmin Pay.
- Suunto has added a new addition to its extensive range of fitness-tracking watches at this year’s CES, launching the new Suunto 3 Fitness. The new fitness watch automatically creates individual seven-day training plans using your fitness level and exercise history as a base, and automatically changes the program to suit your rhythm.
Driverless cars, Google’s virtual assistant, drones that could flip were some of the other attractions at the conference. You can check out more details of the conference at the CES site.