Shh..Here Comes the Monitor?

by Admin on January 10, 2013 · 0 comments

in News, Patients, Tools

Although my geeky friends and I have been wearing fitness monitoring devices for years (I’ve personally tried Fitbit, Jawbone Up and Nike Fuel Band), This is the year they’re destined to hit the consumer market. You know this because this week’s  Consumer Electronics Show featured more than a dozen launches — some of new products and some just iterations of ones you may already know.

The impetus behind all this remote monitoring is a new emphasis on prevention as an alternative to the health care system. It’s coming from two directions: consumers who understand they can’t afford the health care they need if they get sick, and insurers who have always wanted to collect premiums from healthy people rather than spend money caring for the sick.

Somewhere in the middle are providers, who are being incentivized by Medicare, Medicaid, and the insurers to be responsible for keeping their patients healthy. Those providers, doctors and hospitals are no longer incentivized to provide more treatment: they’ve got a specific pile of dollars, and if those dollars are used up, no more reimbursement is forthcoming.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that bandwidth has been getting better and devices easier to wear. The Fitbit, which monitors sleep patterns and steps, has now released a new version that’s a bracelet, much like the Jawbone and the Nike FuelBand. My old Fitbit fell out of my pocket one day in the park and was never recovered, so the idea of a bracelet I can’t lose during exercise is appealing.

If you don’t like it on your arm, you may soon be able to wear it in your ear. According to Mobil Health News,

The long wait for Best Buy-backed Valencell to launch its earbud-embedded biometric sensing technology is almost over: The mobile fitness tech company announced a partnership with South Korean audio company iriver to create the iriver ON, a Bluetooth headset integrated with Valencell’s PerformTek biometric sensors. The device will measure heart rate, distance, and speed while resting in the user’s ears like typical earbuds.

 Then there’s the Withings scale, which sends your weight to the internet for anyone you want to share it with. The new version of this scale, which is actually sold in the Apple Store also measures heart rate and CO2. And it comes with an activity tracker that does almost the same thing while you are exercising. Withings also has a blood pressure monitor that keeps track of blood pressure online. Withings seems to be aiming for an entire ecosystem of apps that can help you maintain your own health.
I’ve already ordered the Basis Band, which monitors heart rate and activity and should be coming  any day now. Then I will be wearing monitors on BOTH arms.

A bit further out in the future are new products from SmartHealth, maker of digital pedometers, wireless scales, and blood pressure monitors, that measure blood glucose and pulse oximetry. These have to be cleared by the FDA.

There are more, but they all do pretty much the same thing: help you keep track of your fitness and weight goals. More complicated sensors will help hospitals and doctors monitor their patients in real time, without wires.

The big hit of the show this year, however, is a device you probably don’t want to receive as a gift: the HAPi fork. This fork uses embedded sensors and blue tooth to monitor how fast you are eating. If you are eating too fast, it vibrates to make you slow down. In theory, fast eaters eat more because they never know when they are full. So if you use this fork, you will eat less, lose weight, and stay healthier.

I tried to order one as a gift, and that’s when I found out the product didn’t really exist yet; it’s not priced and it isn’t shipping. I heave a sigh of relief as I realize I have a few more months to eat as quickly as I choose.







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