How good can wearable health tech get?

wearable health gadget

Ten years ago, if you told somebody that you could wear a device that would monitor your health and give you various outputs, they would have told you that you were mad. Only doctors with expensive equipment could do that. 

And yet, as we go into 2022, rings that sense the blood travelling through your fingers and patches that monitor your blood sugar levels are perfectly normal. In fact, most people aren’t paying them much attention at all. 

The functionality of today’s devices is actually quite extraordinary. And, as you might expect, they’re benefiting from developments in the smartphone sector. You can now get devices that measure your temperatures, heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen, blood sugar, elevation, physical movement and the sound your body is making. Clever algorithms then use machine learning and big data to provide you with an even more accurate picture of your overall health, giving you insights even your doctor would struggle to provide. 

The question now is how much better can these technologies get? Are we moving towards a point where we will be able to wear a laboratory on our wrists? 

Naturally, that remains to be seen. It primarily depends on the type of sensing required. If sensing requires replaceable substrates, such as blots, then it seems less likely that wearables will be able to monitor our health continuously. However, if companies figure out ways of leveraging more variables, we could soon be able to characterize our biochemistry in fine detail daily without any expensive tests. 

Age-Related Tests

At the moment, for instance, if you want to know your biological age, you have to send a sample off to a lab. They then evaluate your cells and send results back to you in the post. Mostly, they’re looking for methyl groups on the ends of your DNA, but there are other signs too. 

In the future, it might be possible for wearables to detect such compounds remotely. However, sensing equipment would need to change. Inferences based on other methods aren’t always suitable. 

Miniaturization

There’s also the fact that health tech is becoming more miniaturized. Companies learn more about how to reduce the size of their devices every day (and how to pack more power and functionality into them). 

Take wearable health monitor rings, for instance. These slip over your finger and look just like regular rings. However, they have a bevy of sensors that come into contact with your skin. The device collects information and then sends it to a companion app which analyzes and interprets it for you. It tells you whether you’re on top form or whether you need to take it easy. 

Something similar is happening in the hearing aid market. Vendors are now packing more features into smaller spaces to make their devices better. It’s now possible, for instance, for hearing aids to perform more onboard processing to detect the surrounding sound environment and then adjust amplification settings accordingly. 

In summary, it’s not clear how good wearables health tech can get. However, there still seems to be a lot of room to run. 

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)