We all have heard about Internet of Things? Wearable devices are another example of IoT or Internet of Things which is now a days, part of the discussions specially related to the innovations in medical sciences. It is observed that the requirement for self-health monitoring and preventive medicine is increasing rapidly and is projected to increase dramatically as we see increase in the number of elderly people until 2020. This article talks about how wearable technology is going to change the face of medical science in the near future. 

Introduction

Wearable Technologies can affect different branches of science, but it can truly reduce the overall costs of prevention and monitoring in the field of medical sciences. This has great significance as it can possible monitor constantly various health indicators related to different areas. Wearable devices can now also be integrated with mobile apps. Once wearable devices and mobile apps integrated can major affects in the field of medicine and health. 

Wearable technology (WT) has become a feasible means to provide low-cost clinically sensitive data thus making possible more informed patient assessment. WT has obvious benefits in the field of medical sciences:

  • These devices are small,
  • These devices can be worn discreetly in any environment,
  • WT devices provide personalized data and
  • WT devices can be integrated into communication networks making possible remote monitoring.

Wearable technology (WT) also known as wearable computing encapsulates a collection of devices that can be worn directly on or alternatively can also be loosely attached to a person in order to make it function accurately.

Can smart phones be considered as WT devices?

Now a days, even smartphones are considered as WT device as it is loosely attached to our bodies all the time. Smartphones have inbuilt sensors and apps can be loaded to tailor its usability to help patients and doctors.

Although smartphone is a WT device or not that is a topic for debate, their existence has immense impact on WT devices as useful aids in assisting daily chores of living. Third party applications are on spur and have led to the growth of WT devices as mobile apps can further add new dimensions to the usability of WT devices, leaving the end-user astounded with so many choices available. There is no doubt that the powerful mobile computing  of these smartphones is quite influential and hence play a key role in enduring  WT advances such as performing fast, robustness and easy and anywhere and at any time nature of applications.

Types of WT devices

These WT devices can now be classified into two categories namely:

  • Primary first types of WT devices are those operate independently and function as central connectors for many other devices and information.
    • For example: Fitness tracker that can be worn on a wrist, smartphones.
  • Other WT devices are at secondary level and are used for capturing specific actions or performing measurements:
    • For example heart rate monitor worn around the chest.
    • Smart textiles having some physical properties that have the capability to measure or react to stimuli from the person wearing textile or user environment.

Wearable Technology has experienced an evolution since it was born. These WT devices have the ability:

  • Gather data and
  • Store data
  • Perform complex permutations in any real-world environment.

It is because of these features that WT entered the healthcare domain. WT devices has been recognized as useful tools in the field of healthcare to help:

  • Patient assessment,
  • Treatment and
  • Management.

Problems associated with WT devices in the field of Medical Sciences

 WT has not been exploited well because regulatory and controlling bodies, vendors hinder easy clinical adoption because of many reasons

  • Difficult differentiating between different types of apps available
  • Devices classified as medical devices might require formal regulatory approval
  • Thousands of Wellness apps for general use by the consumer market
  • Does WT device Qualify for efficiency and safety,
  • Adoption of various standards for accurate analysis and
  • Device and communications interoperability
  • There is also a lack of knowledge related to the WT basics.
    • For example outcomes generated and their relevance when it comes to specific pathologies;
    • Huge collection of options to choose from, finding a suitable WT could be overwhelming.
    • Need of appropriate data management and analysis.

Popular WT devices and apps available and are most used

Sensors play a major role in WT devices. Most of the devices that are based on wearable technology are actually bunch of sensors that are gathering some information and talking to each other draw some conclusions and finally reporting back with some meaningful data using which some decisions can be made. There are so many devices and apps that are available today that sometimes it becomes quite difficult to choose from. Here are some of the most used WT devices and related apps that are used in medical sciences and wellness industry, though these devices are not limited to these to fields only.

  • The measurement of human movement
    • Motion tracking or motion sensing has several useful applications:
      • In the field of sports,
      • In the medical science, and
      • Many other branches of studies.
    • Such applications include:
      • Fall risk assessment,
      • Quantifying sports exercise,
      • Studying people habits, and
      • Monitoring the elderly people.
    • Wearable trackers are becoming increasingly popular for two main reasons:
      • Self-Motivating: They can motivate the user during the daily workout to perform more exercise,
      • Can provide activity measurement information through a smartphone without any manual calculation.
      • They enable the wearer to become aware of many parameters that can be useful, for example
        • The daily distance walked by the user
          • Could be very useful to ensure that the user maintains sufficient activity in the daily routine.
          • Improves and maintains a healthy life.
      • It can precisely observe motion of the human body with the help of different types of sensors that not only collect data but with the help of app can draw your attention to some necessary health specifics:
        • 3-axis accelerometers,
        • magnetometers, and
        • Gyroscopes.
      • These sensors are capable enough and can be used for all sorts of human activity recognition.
      • Gyroscopes and magnetometers are few of the supporting sensors that can be combined with other sensors like accelerometers to enhance the accuracy in obtained data for motion tracking.

Conclusion

Consumer electronics have grown by leaps and bounds in terms of technology. Today they make use of many semiconductor-based tracking systems so that one can have access to various kinds of interface control that use body motions and gestures. That makes these devices a viable option in the healthcare if they are wearable devices and easy to use. Since we are talking about healthcare there is a need for high accuracy in the biomedical field and wearable technology along with sensors and mobile computing is evolving very fast to fill all the gaps.