Doctor Chair Brings Heathcare Into The Living Room
Sharp's medical monitoring device monitors health and sends vital statistics to doctors.
Visiting the doctor’s office can be a time consuming process, especially if it is just for a quick physical exam or follow-up. Not only do you have to spend time in a waiting room with frail people coughing over every surface, but you have to take time out of your day for the privilege, and even then your doctor only has limited minutes to see you. Imagine if patients were able to administer all the necessary tests from home, and then remotely communicate with a doctor for analysis. Not only would doctors visits be much more convenient, but people would be more likely to practice preventative care and get check ups more often.
With its latest prototype, Japanese electronics company Sharp is helping to usher this speculative future into reality. Researchers have developed a healthcare support chair that can measure a user’s blood pressure, pulse, temperature, body motion, and other vital signs just by having the user sit in the chair. This data is then stored in the cloud, where it can be accessed remotely doctors, allowing physicians to examine a patient without actually needing to meet them in person. In a way, it is like having a doctor at your beck and call 24/7.
The working concept consists of a recliner with measurement-taking sensors embedded into the seat and armrests, which has been built into a circular frame that supports three display screens. The system is also equipped with a camera, which allows for videoconferencing with a doctor if the user needs to consult with one in real-time.
Makoto Nakamura, a developer behind the project, commented on the inspiration behind and potential impact of this device:
When we talked to people, they often said that measuring each health indicator separately is time-consuming and bothersome. If possible, people want to obtain all their health data in one go. The equipment needed to do that is still large, but we’ve made it as compact as possible. Our idea is that people could check their health data regularly, in places they often visit, and consult a physician promptly if there’s any change.
Although the design is still a concept, Sharp is looking to make an impact on the way patients seek treatment and interact with their doctors. One possible application would be to create Support Chair ‘stations’ in easy to access locations, with fewer staff, which would allow patients to get their readings taken automatically, followed by contact from their doctor to learn more about their condition and potential treatments. The device would also help people who live far away from a medical facility, or are unable to travel beyond short distances receive the ongoing care they need, freeing up more time for doctors to spend time with the patients who most need their attention. In the long run, this technology could make in-person visits less expensive and easier to schedule for everyone.
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