A long time ago, we humans looked up to the cosmos to get predictions on health and wellness. Comets, eclipses, and other celestial goings-on were thought to signify times of great health, plague and famine. As we progressed in our understanding of the world, we start to rely more on doctors and less on what was happening in the sky. So, where are we now? We now have a myriad of amazing technological assistance available to us virtually anywhere on Earth. How will we get medical updates in the near future?
In a recent study, scientists looked at the potential of using smart watch technology to help us get early warnings for some illnesses. A group of individuals were given smart watches with biosensors capable of detecting heart rate and skin temperature changes. These two variables are often early warning indicators of a handful of common illnesses.
The really cool thing here is that these smart watches are able to track basic daily activity like motion, downtime, elevation changes, and other factors that smart phones and smart watches already track. This helps establish a basic profile of the individual’s activity level. All of this factors into the other data that these watches are picking up, like temperature levels and heart rate. When we start to get sick our skin temperature and heart rate go up a little. Over the two year study, these watches recorded nearly 250,000 different daily readings. After gathering that much data, these watches were quickly able to tell when something was “out of the norm” in terms of daily measurements.
One of the research coordinators took part in the study as well. There were a few days when the researcher felt fine, but the watch was telling him that his temperature and heart rate were changing. The changed readings prompted him to review his activities, and he remembered a recent bug bite which could have caused the elevated readings from the smart watch. Soon after, the researcher visited the doctor and was diagnosed with Lyme disease.
These watches are currently able to detect changes that are a sign of illness ranging from the common cold to Lyme disease. This technology has the medical world excited because of the potential that lies ahead. Biosensors right now are non-invasive and are only able to pick up on 2 variables, however this type of technology could also be advanced to detect more symptoms and conditions. Perhaps in the future we’ll have smart watches that can detect diabetes early on, contact our physicians for us, and keep an archive of our medical history available at our fingertips.
There are many health related applications to smart phone and smart watch technology, but they are still in their early stages. Once this technology becomes more common, we may be able to prevent days off from work simply by letting the watch alert our medical needs before we can feel the symptoms. Early detection is a big part of a speedy recovery and these smart watches may play a big role in this process. A smart watch that connects to the web and our bodies to keep us informed of our own health? It’s about time!