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Smart health gadgets – from smartwatches to the latest startups

In September 2020, Apple unveiled a smartwatch that measures blood oxygen levels and seems to be aware of the general state of the body and stamina levels. Is there something more substantial to help monitor health? Let’s see.

Is the smart home a personal doctor?

Back in 2018, Google seriously talked about tracking human medical parameters in a smart home system. Then they patented an optical sensor that will monitor the cardiovascular system. Of course, it does not sound very convincing: the sensor will watch you through a mirror and note your physical condition by the change in skin color. However, Google is sure that the data will be almost more accurate than the doctor’s opinion – link.

The University of Oklahoma in the United States is developing a medical cloud platform for the smart home. It is planned to incorporate already existing environmental sensors, all wearable electronics and robotic assistants. The idea is to lock all the devices into one ecosystem and do full monitoring. For example, an environmental sensor detects increased dryness in the air, and the robot already brings water to the person, so he does not suffer from dehydration. Scientists also want to add mental state tracking by voice intonation, facial expressions and gestures. As well as smart clothes with ECG electrodes, breathing straps, microphones and other sensors.

What can you buy now?

We never get tired of writing about the smart home, because it’s a really cool system. You can set up an ecosystem of video surveillance and security sensors, configure lighting scenarios, collect control of all Bluetooth and Wi-Fi gadgets in one panel or smartphone – convenient! And you can also build some components into your smart home system to help you keep track of your health. Mostly, it has to do with climate control.

Temperature sensors are the simplest and most primitive, installed in almost every smart home system inside and/or outside. In addition to the purely practical and understandable function, you can know when it’s time to air the room. You’ll find that you can get a headache in the morning from simply sleeping in the heat.

Weather stations are two-in-one sensors that measure temperature and humidity. Humidity is a parameter that we rarely pay attention to, but it is very important for our well-being. And it’s not just skin and hair drying. Too much air causes respiratory diseases, sometimes chronic. Gonorrhea, sinusitis, throat diseases – all this can be a consequence of the lack of humidity around. Not to mention headaches, constant thirst, dizziness, stuffy nose, dry eyes and skin, dehydration. The weather stations in your smart home will tell you exactly when to put in a humidifier and drink more water.

Gas leak detectors – they cannot be directly attributed to devices for health. They’re more about safety. They will help you not blow up or explode if you suddenly forget to turn off the gas stove or have some serious malfunction. On the other hand, life itself is also kind of about health.

Air monitors, more often than not, are individual devices that check the quality of the air you breathe. They also measure temperature, humidity and additionally scan gas concentrations. For example, the most basic option is the level of carbon dioxide CO.

There are cooler monitors, such as the Italian Nuvap N1. It detects methane, carbon monoxide, smoke, exhaust fumes, ammonia, ethanol and toluene. In addition, it reports the intensity of ionizing and Wi-fi radiation, electromagnetic fields, noise load, temperature and can even perform a quick water quality expertise.

Smart gadgets – what awaits us

The invention of smart medical devices is in full swing. Among them are gadgets for everyone, as well as highly specialized devices. For example, the Finnish startup company Popit, together with the large biopharmaceutical firm Almirall, is developing a digital clip-on device for psoriasis patients that will remind them of their medications in time.

A team of U.S. researchers from Northwestern Illinois State University

and scientists in Korea and Japan have developed smart patches in the form of a patch. They will test human sweat for cortisol, vitamin C, glucose and other levels.

And Canadian scientists from McMaster and Brock Universities have developed a handheld device that can quickly test for cancer markers. It looks like a flash drive that is inserted directly into a smartphone. According to the idea, the user mixes his drop of blood with the reagent, inserts it into the device, connects it to his smartphone and receives the result in just a few minutes.

The Cala Trio device has been called a “breakthrough” in the treatment of patients with Parkinson’s disease. It is a watch that is calibrated to each user, stimulates the median and radial nerves and thus alleviates tremors.

Finally, Israeli startup OutSense has developed a smart toilet that analyzes you-know-what and transmits test results directly to your smartphone. Super convenient!

As you can see, there are plenty of devices that will protect and tune your sleep. But there are other health aides as well. For example, the Kinsa smart thermometer, which plugs directly to your smartphone and works on it.

Or a mirror, which is called Mirror. The LCD display has a built-in microphone, speakers and a camera, which helps a person to work out. The memory of the mirror is loaded with more than 50 sports programs from yoga to boxing. You can wear special wearable sensors and transmit your athletic performance so the mirror picks up a fully personalized program.

What can you buy now?

Smartwatches have long been counting heart rate, tracking sleep, and that novelty from Apple will also check how carefully you washed your hands. Attitudes toward smartwatches are divided into two camps. For some, it is a constant and important assistant in an active rhythm of life, while others will not stop laughing at how smart watches measure the pulse of a sausage and a roll of toilet paper.

We can take a middle ground: smartwatch options are useful, but not always accurate, and they should not be used as a substitute for a doctor’s examination and diagnosis. Even if they say that the Apple Watch takes ECGs like in a hospital. But it doesn’t stop at smartwatches alone. Dozens of smart gadgets, which only five years ago were only thought of by startups, already exist.

Special attention among smart gadgets is paid to the quality of sleep. Smart pillows, blankets and even mattresses closely monitor how and how much you sleep.

For example, the smart pillow ZEEQ is some kind of interactive assistant. It can quietly play music on a timer if you can’t fall asleep in silence.  Motion sensors and a microphone check the quality of sleep, and thanks to a slight vibration will make a snoring person turn to the other side. There’s even a smart alarm clock – sensors pick up the best time to wake up, and increasing vibration brings you out of sleep.

The orthopedic pillow Askona Smart Pillow Axis has similar functions – it analyzes the quality of sleep and transmits the data to the app on your smartphone, prevents snoring and protects against apnea.

A step further – a smart blanket like Smartduvet. It heats or cools itself to the optimal temperature and, attention, it refills itself!

The super combo is the smart bed. Sleep Number company produces the beds of the future. It looks ordinary, but in fact it is stuffed with all sorts of sensors. They adjust the hardness of the mattress, heat the leg area, scan the quality of sleep, raise the headboard for snoring, wake up according to the schedule, make a schedule of sleep and wakefulness. In general, a spaceship, not a bed.

Even now you can get quite affordable environmental sensors in a smart home system and wear a smartwatch on your wrist. Even information about heart rate, sleep rhythms and calories expended will already give you an understanding of which way to adjust your lifestyle. In the future, medical smart gadgets and smart home options will make health care even easier and more convenient.

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