5 Exciting Developments in Wristwear Technology
From counting your steps, to displaying your schedule, to navigating you to your next appointment, smartwatches and other wristwear technologies have much to offer in day to day living. In the past several years, wristwear technologies developed their usable even further, stepping into the realm of medical devices.
These devices, several FDA approved, can do things like monitor the user for seizures or take EKGs on the spot.
FDA Approved Wristwear Technology
Developed by AliveCor, the KardiaBand is an FDA approved EKG monitor that doubles as an Apple Watch band. The band contains a sensor where the user can place their thumb. The sensor then sends the EKG to the Apple Watch where it can be viewed in real-time. Once the KardiaBand completes the EKG, the results can be viewed as a PDF on the paired smartphone.
The most recent version also includes the app Smart Rhythm. Smart Rhythm uses the Apple Watch to track the user’s activity levels and heart rate. If the Smart Rhythm AI sees something unexpected, it sends a notification, via the Apple Watch to take an EKG.
Unfortunately, KardiaBand only works with Apple Watch and iPhones. However, AliveCor does have other portable EKG products, like KardiaMobile, they just aren’t directly wearable.
Dexcom is wearable glucose-measuring patch device (quarter-sized), which is applied directly to the user’s skin-on their abdomen. The sensors in the device measure the user’s glucose levels and transmit the information to a compatible device, often an app on a smartphone. If the user’s blood-sugar level gets too high or too low, it will trigger an alarm on the compatible device. With the Dexcom device, users no longer need endure fingersticks and can easilycheck their glucose levels on their compatible device, which updates every five minutes. Users can also choose to share their glucose data with other followers, like family memebers, via a follow app.
The exciting addition to the FDA approved Dexcom G6 CGM is that it can be integrated with an automated insulin dosing system. When the user’s blood sugar rises, the Dexcom G6 CGM would trigger the release of insulin from an insulin pump.
The FDA recently cleared a smartband, Embrace, to be marketed for seizure-monitoring use in children. Embrace was designed and developed by Empatica, a company that develops wearable devices for medical research and epilepsy management. Embrace continuously collects and monitors physiological data through its various sensors. This data is then analyzed immediately to detect any unusual patterns that. If any unusual patterns are detected, Embrace communicates with a designated smartphone via bluetooth.
Empatica designed two apps specifically for Embrace, Alert and Mate. When a seizure is detected, Alert sends out automated messages to designated caregivers via SMS. The other app, Mate, acts a seizure diary, tracking sleep, physical activity, and detailed information of seizures when they occur.
Wristband Technology in Development
Cardiogram, an app for Apple Watch and Android Wear, is currently researching and collecting data so that your smartwatch can detect early signs of a stroke. Cardiogram uses an AI based algorithm, DeepHeart, to detect atrial fibrillation (AFib), a leading cause of stroke.
Afib is a type of irregular heartbeat. Irregular heartbeats have the potential to allow blood to collect in the heart, form a clot and then move to the individual’s brain. Though AFib is treatable, it sometimes asymptomatic (causes no symptoms) and thus, it goes untreated. By using the data collected on the wearer’s heart rate, Cardiogram will eventually be able to notify the user of possible AFib. The user will then be able to see a doctor to be treated, when necessary.
Unlike KardiaBand, which uses a separate sensor in conjunction with the AppleWatch to detect either normal or possible AFib, Cardiogram uses the sensor already built in the Apple Watch, a photoplethysmography or PPG, to diagnose Afib.
Not yet FDA approved to detect AFib, Cardiogram conducted a study, to collect data and determine the viability of Deep Heart and the Apple Watch to correctly detect AFib. While the results were promising, Cardiogram is likely still a ways away from FDA approval.
The Feel Wristband developed by Sentio Solutions is the first step in the company’s vision to eliminate suffering from mood disorders by 2030. The Sentio team is made is made up of data scientists, psychologists, and engineers.
Still in the early stages of development,Feel is an emotion sensing wristband that integrates with an app to collect data and provide real-time coaching based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The wristband uses several integrated bio sensors to collect physiological signals, like skin temperature and heart rate, throughout the day. That information is then sent to the mobile app which recommends coaching and solutions based on the data collected. In September of 2018, the CEO of Sentio Solutions, George Eleftheriou, performed the first live demonstration of Feel at the Health 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, CA.
While this particular wristband is still far from market-release, it could represent an exciting development in integrating physiological signs with emotional and mental in a wearable.
All of these devices and apps represent exciting steps forward in making medical monitoring that much more accessible to everyday users.