With the explosive growth of the wearable tech industry and all the options now available on the market, it can be overwhelming for someone trying to decide what device is best. Even when one narrows down the field to just healthcare, the options still seem limitless. In this blog, we demystify what products are out there and what purposes they serve. To set some reasonable parameters, we are going to focus on wearable tech that impacts your health and wellness. For family caregivers who are busy taking care of children as well as aging parents, wearable tech can add efficiency and even some fun into your lives! Many of the devices mentioned below could be just as much for your parent as for you.
Fitness and Activity Trackers
Of all the wearable technology applications developed thus far, the fitness realm is the most developed and offers the most choices. The main manufacturers of fitness wearables include companies like Apple, FitBit, Garmin, and Samsung. The common feature found across most of the products is the ability to track the duration and type of activity ranging from walking and running to more active endeavours, such as cycling, golf, and even swimming!
Other common features include the ability to track vitals, such as heart rate, to calculate calories burned from a particular activity, to sync the device to a smartphone or tablet, and to receive notifications when milestones are achieved (or when you need that extra nudge!).
For those who want to keep active and to stick to a program by measuring their progress, a fitness tracker is a great choice.
Sleep is when your body regenerates and rejuvenates, which can have a huge impact on your wellbeing. Some common things that sometimes get in the way of a good night’s sleep are diet, stress, and issues associated with aging. A sleep monitor will track the quality and quantity of one’s sleep. Over a period of time, the data derived from the sleep tracker can be correlated with other lifestyle factors to determine some actions that may improve one’s sleep.
Many of the fitness trackers mentioned above also have a feature that monitors the duration and quality of sleep. For those solely focussed on sleep, Neuroon offers a new product with some interesting features. In addition to providing sleep analytics, which are delivered to your smartphone, a sleep mask combats jet lag and seasonal affective disorder using spectrum light therapy. It also uses light to gently wake the user from sleep rather than a jarring alarm.
Many aging seniors experience issues of interrupted sleep for various reasons. A sleep monitor can be key in improving one’s health by improving sleep.
Wearable tech that includes GPS tracking will see an explosion of diverse applications in coming years. Currently, some of the fitness apps described above also have GPS tracking to help with running and golf applications. Other products include a safety device for women made by ROAR for Good which sounds an 85 decibel alarm and calls a pre-designated friend or family member after a three second button push. The GPS tracker will tell your contact exactly where you are, allowing them to either call you or 911 for help.
For those who are worried about aging parents with early signs of dementia (and possibly wandering tendencies), a wearable device with a GPS tracker can help give the family peace of mind. Philips Lifeline offers an emergency alert button that is worn on the neck (called the GoSafe button) which contains a GPS tracker. It’s one of their newer product offerings to allow their emergency alert system to work outside the home. Another option is a product called iTraq, which is about the size of a credit card and can be carried in a purse or pocket. It syncs with a smartphone and allows loved ones to see where the subject is at all times; it can even send an alert if it is removed from a pre-designated geographical area.
Wearable Tech Clothing
Smart clothing hasn’t really taken off in the way that some analysts predicted, but improvements are still being made to make the clothing useful in tracking biometric data without sacrificing comfort. In addition to design, some improvements also still have to be made to bring the cost down to attract the mass market.
Yes, you guessed it – a hearable is a wearable tech device you place in your ear like an earphone piece or a small hearing aid. The Bragi Dash is one of the first products out on the market and it incorporates three main features:
- Music – stores 1000 songs without requiring another device
- Communication – pairs with a smartphone as a bluetooth earpiece
- Activity Tracker – tracks vitals, duration of activity, and number of steps (mainly for running, cycling, and swimming)
Why not get a wearable tech device for your pup? Collars with GPS tracking capability will tell you where your pet is at all times and will also store data about favourite walks along with wellness stats. Nuzzle is such a collar that will be available soon.
As one can see, the opportunities to incorporate wearable technology into daily life is vast and only poised to grow exponentially. Give one of the products above a try, and you might just get hooked!