For geeks and gadget-lovers the year does not usually start with the 1st January, but a couple of days later, when CES opens in Las Vegas. It is even more exciting this year, since the exhibition celebrates its 50th anniversary – so it is obviously bigger and better than ever before.
It’s almost impossible to collect and analyse every novelty appearing at the fair, and I’m certainly more interested in the coolest health sensors and trackers than the announcement of T-Mobile making customer bills much simpler (although that’s relevant, too), but there are some palpable trends. Here are the two most important.
- Tech companies and start-ups jumped eagerly on the ‘smart’-train, so your phone’s sensor might actually tell you which strawberry is sweeter or what is hiding in your fridge, but I do not think that creating smart apps, gadgets or technology for the sake of data is enough. I believe that instead of the tech version of l’art pour l’art, companies and start-ups should rather strengthen behavioral change. So smart objects and apps do not only gather information about the users or the environment for the sake of data, but in order to (ultimately) achieve a better life.
- Looking through the latest technologies presented at CES – I have to emphasize that not every product was introduced at the tech gathering, but they certainly get here the most attention -, I believe real innovation is missing. According to the most trending chart created by CES, one of the most used buzzword (next to spidermanhomecoming) was “upgrade”. It is obvious, isn’t it? Instead of impacting, long-lasting, real innovation, tech companies are mostly upgrading their already existing products. Which is also quite exciting and requires a lot of work, it just indicates more of a gradual than a disruptive process.
However, no matter how the big picture looks like, there are still truly inspiring and forward-looking innovations out there with great potential for medicine and healthcare.
No, apnoea is not an exotic snake type. It is actually a very dangerous health condition. It means that breathing stops periodically during sleeping. Apnoea might generate hypertension, heart disease, brain attacks, diabetes or somnolence. Neogia offers a smart solution for recognizing the problem and normalizing sleep. Its wearable, MOTIO HW detects sleep apnoea and improves sleeping quality via a personalized artificial intelligence that learns about the user.
If you have a small child, you know how difficult it is to measure the sweet little baby’s temperature. There are always some movements, plush animals or bodily fluids involved. Now, the struggle is over. TempTraq offers a patch-like smart device, which monitors body temperature 24/7. It continuously senses, records, and sends temperature data to mobile devices so caregivers can keep track without unnecessarily disturbing the child. It is amazing due to its double effect: it will calm the mom down, while letting the baby sleep.
QardioCore promises a discreet as well as easily usable hearth monitor without patches and wires. The FDA-approved, medical-grade wearable uses sensors to record clinically accurate continuous ECG, heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate, skin temperature, and activity data, which can be shared with medical professionals or synced to the free Qardio app or Apple’s Health app on iPhone or iPad. It was first introduced at CES 2015, and the first batch of these smart and tiny chest straps will be shipped to their lucky users as early as April 2017.
What if reaching 10 thousand steps a day is actually great for your annoying co-worker, Nathan, but bad for your health? Every single person has a different body in need of a personalized fitness plan and health solution. And Mio Slice wants to take that into account. At first sight, it looks and acts like a fitness tracker. It measures steps, calories burned, distance, all day heart rate and sleep. However, it adds to it its very own Personal Activity Intelligence (PAI) index. PAI provides you with a personalised target score which reflects your body’s response to physical activity based on heart rate. It can reform the market of fitness trackers!
If you’ve ever been to any of the invisible exhibition series, you already got a limited impression how difficult it is to navigate through the world if you cannot see your surroundings. Aira is eager to help everyone who has problems with vision. Using a pair of smart glasses or a phone camera, the system allows an Aira “agent” to see what the blind person sees in real-time, and then talk them through whatever situation they’re in. It would be a bit easier crossing a busy street, shopping for dinner or finding the light switch. You could even help the company by becoming their agent! Stunning technology!
Expecting a baby comes with a lot of worries and stress. Is the little one healthy? Safe? Am I doing okay? Is my wife or girlfriend doing okay? Bloomlife wants to help every concerned parent-to-be out there. They developed a “pregnancy wearable”, a patch with a small device that sticks to the baby bump and measures contractions by reading the electrical activity of uterine muscle. It sends the information to your smart phone and lets you read and interpret the data. This way, you can make a difference between false alarms such as Braxton Hicks contractions and the real thing. Also, one of the most awesome idea of the start-up is that you do not need to buy the wearable. Since it is useful for you only for a limited time, the company is leasing the product instead of selling it. Great marketing, guys!
Okay, if you dread to think of panpipe music, this app will not work for you, but in most cases 2breathe’s sleep inducer has a pretty good success rate. It combines a Bluetooth sensor, a smartphone app and some soothing panpipe melodies. The wearable around your waist analyses your breathing patterns, and then your phone gives out guidance in the form of smooth, lilting melodic tones to prolong exhalation and reduce brain activity, thus making you sleepy. It’s pretty easy. And believe me, you do not have to count sheep anymore before falling into a sweet dream.
Do you find fitness trackers and wearables too big, too visible, too uncomfortable and never matching your outfit? For a long time, companies and start-ups are experimenting with the idea of stuffing all their features into a tiny ring. Now, I believe Motiv succeeded. Its ring acts like a fitness tracker – with step counter, heart rate monitor or sleep tracker. It also withstands the elements – so you can wear it during swimming as well as on the North Pole. The ring is elegant, stylish and tasteful.
Your facial skin is one of the best indicator of your health due to its sensitivity. It responds to your mood, stress level and changes in the environment. Thus, it needs your peculiar attention. S-Skin wants to help you achieving it. It is made up of a microneedle patch and a portable device that can help analyse your skin, give you solutions and even suggest products that you’ll be able to use. Through the LED light, it can measure your skin’s dryness, hydration, redness, or melanin and then save the information on the app so you can track its changes.
Bodytrak is a unique wearable and vital signs meter. It measures biometric information from your ear. It is not well-known that the ear is actually a great spot for measurement, but I believe when the hype around the wrist will calm down, start-ups and tech companies will find the ear irresistible for their innovations. Although by that time, Bodytrak will be way before them. Its device measures body temperature, heart rate, VO2, speed, distance and cadence – continuously – and all in real-time. Moreover, since it fits nicely into your ear, you can listen to music and make telephone calls as well. What a win-win situation!
So, these were this year’s hits. And what about the flops?…
Don’t be surprised if you see bearded hipsters in bird-shirts with Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes brushing their hair elegantly at the metro station. The smart hairbrush is here eagerly claiming its place in the universe of smart devices. L’Oreal teamed up with Withings to create the dream of bored princesses: the smart hairbrush. It is able to tell you whether you are brushing your hair too hard causing irreparable hair damage. Wow! What an indispensable piece of information! Sounds the Kérastase Hair Coach will rock your world…
Wait, what? Yes, you read it correctly. ReNu apparently offers a stress management kit with all kinds of stuff in it. At first, you are supposed to use some sort of supplements in the form of a cream or chewable nutrients (???) that the company says are “all-natural amino acids”. Then you need to take on the headset and place a couple of small patches behind your ears. These patches are apparently going to absorb the nutrients then. The stimulation is said to prepare the brain for the company’s proprietary software, which is delivered in the form of binaural audio. Which sends calming vibes to your brain.
Umm, okay. Well, I’m not sure about you, but having read only the instruction and not even thinking about the scientific implications here makes me already pretty tense, just as assembling an IKEA furniture. Let’s just say diplomatically that I would give it a pass… [The Medical Futurist]