Technology and healthcare have always gone hand-in-hand. The average lifespan has been extended considerably, in part, thanks to advances in health tech.
In recent years, the introduction of home health tech, such as remote monitoring tools for the elderly and telehealth systems that connect patients with doctors, has helped some people ease their maladies and watch over loved ones.
Home health tech isn't without detractors, though. There's an increasing focus on the accuracy of many of these devices, especially those that don't require FDA clearance. (Fitbit, for example, while not technically a home health device, is facing a class action lawsuit over the accuracy of the heart rate monitoring technology in its devices.)
At this year’s CES, there was a panoply of devices on display – some still haven't received FDA clearance, while others have and will be hitting the market. And the problems they claim to solve are as widespread as the field of medicine itself.
Here are some of the more intriguing items that were on display:
TempTraq - Nothing breaks your heart quicker than seeing your infant with a fever. It’s important to monitor the temperature, but taking a reading is often nightmarish, especially if it wakes the child. TempTraq is a $20 wearable smart monitoring patch that goes under the arm and claims to constantly monitor a baby’s temperature for 24 hours, feeding that information to your smart phone, so you can keep an accurate record to share with the pediatrician if necessary. The FDA cleared monitor also changes colors as the fever rises and falls, letting you know at a glance if there’s reason for concern.
ReliefBand – Nausea is a fairly common side-effect of pregnancy, but now there’s a way to help curb it. Launching later this quarter, ReliefBand is an FDA cleared device that reduces nausea and vomiting associated with morning and motion sickness. By sending pulses that stimulate the median nerve on the underside of the wrist, the $90 device curbs that queasy feeling within minutes, say makers.
Withings Thermo – Need to take someone’s temperature quickly? The Withings Thermo uses 16 infrared sensors to quickly get a reading when it’s aimed at the temple of your forehead. Point it at the patient’s temporal artery (on the side of their head) and the sensors will take 4,000 separate measurements in two seconds. An onboard algorithm will automatically correct for things like the ambient temperature of the room. The system has filed, but not yet received, for FDA clearance.
MOCAheart – Tracking your heart’s health can be onerous, with so many different things to keep an eye on. MOCAheart is a heart health monitor that delivers a snap shot of your cardiovascular health using a pair of thumb scanners. You can look at the individual numbers for things like blood oxygen and heart rate if you’d like, but it also offers your risk status in an easy to understand ranking of 1-5 (the lower the number, the better). The team behind the device says it does not require FDA clearance, since it doesn't diagnose or treat medical conditions, but they have applied for it all the same.
Owlet Smart Sock Baby Monitor – It’s natural for parents to worry about their little one. This $249 smart sock is slipped onto junior’s foot at bedtime and communicates with an alert station, letting parents know if there’s an issue with their child’s heart rate or oxygen level, say its creators. The alarm not only sounds locally, but the information can be uploaded to parents’ smart phones, setting their minds at ease if they leave their newborn with a sitter. It's worth noting, though, that this is not the same as a pulse oximeter a hospital would use and is not approved by the FDA for use in medical applications.
CielPur – Air quality can make a big difference in our health. CielPir senses the air around you and attempts to help you make adjustments to breath cleaner. Adjustment suggestions could mean anything from a nudge to install air purifiers or change the filters to a suggestion that you adjust your indoor or outdoor exercise habits. While that might help asthmatics, it’s targeted at a wider audience. The $169 device, which has not been cleared by the FDA, will ship in March.