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12th July 2016

The Body Electric: Welcome to the Wearable Sensors Revolution

Medtech’s future is emerging, and you’re going to wear it.

Personal sensors are coming into the health-care market at warp speed. Just some of what’s already here:

-A shirt that knows when you slums.

-Shoes that sense poor running form.

-A pill that finks on you if you don’t take your meds.

-Wristbands that track your nighttime tossing and turning.

It’s like having your mom, your trainer and your doctors at your side – all the time. Wearable sensors collect data on movement, heart rate, sleep, temperature, respiration, skin, brain activity, hydration, muscle activity and blood pressure – and relay the information to the cloud through Bluetooth and cellular connections for instant, remote online access.

The challenge lies in collecting and interpreting the torrents of data. Start-ups, hospitals, drug and medtech companies are racing to develop frameworks for syncing the information and delivering it in a useful form to individuals and health-care practitioners.

Already here: an early warning system that tracks hospital patients’ vital signs and sends alerts to doctors’ mobile devices. The system can receive data from wearable sensors as well as existing monitoring infrastructure.Digital healthcare has the potential to help people make smarter decisions in daily life, visionaries say.

“In the future, your smartwatch will instantly access your medical records, diet and training logs, then sync them with sensors in the supermarket and mall to provide real-time shopping and health advice,” tech maven Dennis Bonilla, a former vice president for Oracle, told the Los Angeles Times.

Because medical nonadherence costs billions and keeps patients from getting better, one company has taken the wearables concept even farther, developing an ingestible sensor that can monitor medication levels, activity, blood pressure, and weight from within. A microchip coated with magnesium and copper is activated by stomach acid, and the body itself transmits electrical signals to the cloud via Bluetooth. The smart pill lets people with chronic diseases such as hypertension and Type 2 diabetes share information with their doctors automatically. Not only that, they gain insight into their own patterns medication-taking, rest, activity, heart rate, blood pressure and weight.

Ingestibles could tell doctors and family members if Grandpa is remembering to take his meds. But how to get him to take his daily microchip? Perhaps follow the example of the evil genius Valentine, who serves 1945 Chateau Lafite wine spiked with a tracking sensor to the gentleman spy Harry Hart in “Kingsman: The Secret Service.”

Personally, I want a wearable that does mammograms without squeezing.

This is part two of our Summer of e-Health series where we showcase how medtech helps you take care of yourself and be ready to enjoy your Summer holidays to the fullest. Click here to read part one.