By Jessie Rudd - BI consultant at PBT Group
In our neck of the woods, wearable tech is still very much a novelty.
“Oh, you have an Apple Watch?”
“Yes, it came with my phone” kind of novelty.
Unfortunately, at its heart, this kind of technology is expensive and out of range for most people. Even with companies actively linking rewards and freebies to various wearables that can track data – how many hours you sleep, what you eat, how many steps you take – the uptake is still slow.
However, there is real magic in what devices like these can do with the kinds of data being collected. The latest wearables can tell users how to lose weight, quit smoking, or even help them train and reach their fitness goals. Things like smart socks . It may sound silly, but imagine the possibilities of owning a pair of socks that can help to improve running pace and technique? Even going so far as recommending the type of shoes that should be worn. Cleverly built textile pressure sensors allow the device to collect real-time data. This data can be used by the user for feedback as well as by myriad different companies; sports shoe designers, medical practitioners, marketing companies, etc.
Imagine being guided to a destination by slight vibrations in the shoes being worn? Imagine the kind of freedom it could give to the visually impaired? The technology to do just that already exists – Lechal . What about a device that detects and destroys cancer cells using nanoparticle phoresis? Already in development – Calico Labs .
On Monday, 28 October 2013, the first operation for abdominal surgery using GoogleGlass  was simultaneously livestreamed to the Congress ‘Games for Health Europe’ and live to YouTube. There is no doubt this laparoscopic surgery was just the tip of the iceberg. Proof of concept has already been simulated for the seamless transfer of patient vital signs into GoogleGlass by Phillips Healthcare . This opens a door to a whole new way for doctors to get the information they need, when they need it most. Imagine the power of a device that allows doctors performing surgery to simultaneously monitor a patient’s vital signs and react to changes – without ever having to take their eyes off the procedure or patient.
According to Soreon research , mankind is on the cusp of a wearable revolution in the healthcare sector. It has projected an expected increase of investments into the healthcare sector from $2 billion in 2014 to $41 billion in 2020.
CDW Healthcare  estimates wearable technologies could potentially and significantly drop hospital costs by as much as an astonishing 16% over the course of five years.
Even the most basic and entry-level wearables can monitor and gather wearers’ activity level, heart rate, and other vital signs. The opportunity for engaging the individual at a personalised customer level is now wholly within reach. Take, for example, Discovery Health’s recent vitality Active Rewards  initiative. Reach your goals, as measured by a variety of wearable tech and apps, and get rewarded for various targeted activities. It’s a win-win. Users get rewarded for getting fit, and being fit makes users healthier and less likely to claim from the medical aid.
Wearables that measure slight changes in the daily routines of senior and other vulnerable people already exist – Care Predict , and healthcare developers are well on their way to actively implementing new wearable technologies for use in patients with Alzheimer’s, diabetes, macular degeneration and those with neuropathic pain. In harnessing wearable health technology, there is now an opportunity for healthcare leaders to find new ways to build engagement and create accurate views of the health of individuals and communities.
Wearables are both producers and consumers of data. By their very nature, wearables are textbook generators of big data, with high velocity, volume and variety. As in any big data scenario, transforming that data into insight and action requires powerful, scalable analytics, data visualisation and a transparent reporting platform. Wearables in healthcare share many characteristics with the networks of sensors in Internet of things applications. However, healthcare adds layers of complexities, particularly regarding security.
The future is perhaps not hover boards and self-lacing Nike shoes. Not yet, anyway . But what it is, is still pretty awesome. The result of a crowdfunding initiative, you just have to have a look at the Scully  if you have any doubts.
Source : IT Web