menu

How The Health Trackers Of The Future Could Turn Us Into Cyborgs [Future Of Health]

How The Health Trackers Of The Future Could Turn Us Into Cyborgs [Future Of Health]
Design

Near-imperceptible medical devices are being developed to record and communicate a variety of detailed biometrics.

PSFK Labs
  • 12 march 2014

As many people are adopting fitness and wellness trackers as part of their daily lives, researchers and scientists are hard at work developing smaller and more specialized sensors. These devices are designed to conform to people’s bodies as to make them nearly imperceptible to the wearer, giving us the ability to gather more sophisticated and accurate health data. Whether it is getting a concise measure of temperature from the skin, a blood sugar reading from the eyes or even clearer picture about a person’s dental health, these small and sophisticated sensors can greatly improve the level of information doctors can collect and monitor without burdening the patient with excessive medical equipment.

PSFK Labs’ latest Future of Health report has outlined a trend we’re calling Embedded Vital Monitors, which looks at how these shrinking devices are impacting healthcare. Particularly as sensor technologies and circuitry become smaller in size and more reliable, physicians and researchers are using them to create a new class of wearable device for continuous somatic monitoring. These devices are being embedded directly onto the skin or even ingested, to record and communicate a wider variety of biometrics. When analyzed prior to a procedure, they can be used to improve diagnosis and decisions about treatment plans, or provide a powerful follow-up tool for monitoring a patient’s progress after surgery or response to medications. Continue reading below to see what impact these emerging devices are already having on the healthcare system.

flexible thermometer 2

Scientists from the University of Illinois have manufactured a wearable sensor that can be adhered to people’s skin and can monitor their temperature, hydration levels and circulatory system changes. The flexible sensor is a composite of gold and silicon and is attached to a person’s limbs using a light adhesive that laminates the sensor on to their skin. Once on the skin, the thermal conductive natures of the materials make it easy to monitor skin temperature (within a thousandth of a degree), cognitive state, and thermal conductivity (which is a telltale for patient hydration). Researchers are looking to add a power source that would add more functionality and enable better tracking of wearers’ vital signs over time.

athlete-biosensor

In another example, researchers at the University of California-San Diego have developed a temporary tattoo-like sensor that can gauge athletes’ physical exertion. The stick-on patch monitors chemicals in the wearer’s sweat by calculating the existence of key compounds, such as lactate, that denotes levels of exercise. Initially it was designed with the school’s mascot on top of the sensor, but could easily be customized with any design. The patch attempts to replace previous methods that require collecting a blood sample through multiple pinpricks to an athlete’s finger. The patch could be a much less invasive way to collect data on athlete’s training, serving as a highly practical advancement in wearable technology and could aid in pushing athletes to new limits.

sensor_1

These technologies are even reaching inside the body, such as with The Ubicorp Lab at the National Taiwan University, which has created a sensor that can be planted inside an artificial tooth and is able to relay patients’ oral activity to a dentist using Wi-Fi signals. A small motion sensing accelerometer is planted inside the dental implant and a patient’s speaking coughing, chewing, drinking and other daily activities are recorded. Through the unique oral motion of each activity healthcare providers can identify with a 94% accuracy what the patient is doing. The device could be used to track a patient’s activity between visits to ensure that they are carrying out instructions by simply monitoring activities during the long periods between appointments. The research team hopes to be able to further shrink the implant, allowing it to be placed in between teeth, on braces or be seamlessly attached to other oral implants.

With the help of our partner Boehringer Ingelheim, PSFK Labs has released the latest Future of Health Report, which highlights the four major themes and 13 emerging trends shaping the evolving global landscape of healthcare. To see more insights and thoughts on the Future of Health visit the PSFK page.

Contributed by: Andrew Vaterlaus-Staby

Design
Trending

How Indiegogo Is Becoming An Adult Product Destination

Retail
Home september 23, 2016

Watch This Fire Pit Dance Along To Your Favorite Song

Music City Fire is a system that is designed to flicker in time to ambient music

Automotive september 23, 2016

Slick GPS Navigator Gives Directions To Moped Riders

This small, round device attaches to a sideview mirror to display maps for safer traveling

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Home september 23, 2016

A Clock That Beautifully Manages Your Information Overload

The wall-mounted timekeeper is made to help people maintain focus and stay up to date with their appointments

Arts & Culture september 23, 2016

Performance Piece Blends Dancers Into Folds Of Light

The work provides commentary on the increasing connection between programmed and analog dimensions

Related Expert

Matt Hogan

Data, Advocacy, Digital Currency

Design & Architecture september 23, 2016

Design Firm Adapts Childhood Homes For Unemployed Young Adults

The studio has unveiled three prototypes of transformed living spaces for people forced to move back in with their families

Health september 23, 2016

These Chocolate Squares Claim To Reverse The Aging Process

A group of researchers from Cambridge University have developed a candy bar that promises to give you a youthful glow

Cities september 23, 2016

Food-Producing Architecture Competition Seeks To Better Feed Cities

A design challenge in Copenhagen highlights the need and beauty of urban farming

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed september 21, 2016

Everything I Know About Leadership I Learned Teaching 7th Grade Math

Bree Groff, Managing Director at NOBL NYC, shares her secrets for knowing your employees and enabling a team

PSFK Labs september 22, 2016

The Future Of Work: Why Innovation Is Every Employee’s Job

PSFK Labs sits down with management at Johnson & Johnson to learn how the company comes up with their next ‘big idea’

Health september 23, 2016

Wearable Monitors Sun Exposure To Prevent Sunburn

The clip monitors UV rays to make sure you're not receiving too much sunlight

Op-Ed september 23, 2016

Productivity Expert: The Magic Of The Five-Hour Workday

Stephan Aarstol, Founder of Tower Paddle Boards, explains why the modern notion of office hours needs to evolve

Culture september 23, 2016

This Exhibition’s Crowning Jewel Is An 18k Gold-Plated Toilet

The piece, titled 'America,' is meant to raise questions about the country's wealth inequality

Culture september 23, 2016

Match Up With Dates On Tinder Based On Your Music Preferences

A new partnership with Spotify lets people pair up based on shared tastes in artists

Entertainment september 23, 2016

Capture, Cut Up, And Configure Your World In 360 Degrees

To meet a booming 360 and VR video-capturing industry, a multimedia software company bolstered its media editing suite for 360-video creation

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Advertising september 23, 2016

These Trucks Drove Around In Circles For 24 Hours To Keep Time

The giant ticking clock was created by 14 Scania vehicles in a deserted airfield

Advertising september 23, 2016

Buy Movie Tickets Directly From Your Facebook Profile

The new feature is part of a campaign from Fandango to further imbed social media into the ticket vendor's digital presence

Asia september 23, 2016

Co-Working Space Brings The Calming Atmosphere Of Nature Indoors

An architectural firm in China has designed a new type of shared office that prioritizes the natural environment

No search results found.