A long time ago, we humans used to look up to the cosmos to get predictions on health and wellness. Comets, eclipses, and other celestial ongoings were thought to signify times of great health or 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 have a myriad of amazing technological assistance available to us virtually anywhere on Earth right now. How will we get medical updates in the near future? Listen to this Question Your World radio report produced by the Science Museum of Virginia to find out.
In a recent study, some scientists looked at the potentials 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 able to be 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, temperature levels and heart rate. When we start to get sick our skin temperature and heart level 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 are quickly able to tell when something is “out of the norm” in terms of daily measurements.
One of the research coordinators took part in the study as well. While the researcher felt fine for a few days, the watch was letting him know that there were temperature and heart rate changes happening. This prompted the researcher to think about any changes that may have happened recently. This is when they remembered that there was a recent bug bite and perhaps that had something to do with these elevated readings from the smart watch. Soon after this the researcher visited the doctor and a diagnosis for Lyme disease was made.
These watches are currently able to detect changes that are a sign of illnesses ranging from the common cold to Lyme disease. This technology has the medical world excited because of the potential that lays ahead. Biosensors right now are non-invasive and are able to pick up on 2 variables, however this type of technology could also be advanced to be able to detect more symptoms and conditions. Perhaps in the future we’ll be able to 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!