A bathmat that talks to your toothbrush. A bed that tells you how to sleep better. A camera that measures your stress levels. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2022 Annual Meeting, inventors touted dozens of such new devices for monitoring people's health as they go about their daily business.
The innovations offered a snapshot of the day when dozens of previously inert household objects, animated by artificial intelligence, begin monitoring their owners' every heartbeat and wirelessly reporting back to physicians (a day that is probably closer than we realize).
"In a nutshell, at Baracoda Daily Health Tech, we are focusing on reinventing everyday objects to make them a companion of your daily health," said Thomas Serval, PhD, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Baracoda Group, which launched a bathroom scale embedded in a bath mat.
By collecting a continuous stream of measurements, such monitors can provide a more complete and consistent picture of a patient's health than could be obtained through occasional doctor visits, Serval and other entrepreneurs argue.
Among the new health monitoring devices touted at CES:
Omron's VitalSight, a combination scale and blood pressure cuff, sends data directly into a physician's electronic medical records system without the need for Wi-Fi or cellular connection.
Smart Meter adds blood glucose monitoring to weight and blood pressure measurements using AT&T's Internet of Things cellular technology.
FaceHeart features a camera designed to measure heart rate, heart rate variability, blood pressure, blood oxygen level, respiratory rate, and stress index value in 60 seconds or less by analyzing an image of a person's face.
Aktiia's Blood Pressure Monitor, now in a US clinical trial, offers 24/7 measurement in a wristband. "Cuffs require the patient to interrupt their day, while Aktiia's solution automatically triggers 150 readings per week in multiple body positions, while awake and sleeping," according to a company press release. "It is the only solution able to measure a patient's 'time in range' ― the percentage of time their blood pressure is within a healthy range."
For patients who consider a wristband too bulky, Movano's "smart, sleek and comfortable" finger ring, now in beta testing, is designed to measure heart rate, heart rate variability, sleep, respiration, temperature, blood oxygen, steps, and calories ― with glucose and blood pressure measurements available in the ring's next iteration.
Beds, too, are becoming watchful. Ergomotion's smart bed monitors heart rate and respiratory patterns ― including snoring.
Like Smart Meter and Omron, Barcoda's "bathroom of the future" connects multiple devices to each other. In addition to BBalance, the bathmat that weighs you and analyzes your balance, the company also makes a mirror, Aretmis, that can flag a potentially cancerous mole; BCool, a smart thermometer; and (in conjunction with Colgate) the Smart Rhythm toothbrush that tells you if you've missed any teeth.
It's too early to know know what insights these devices might reveal when their measurements are crunched in one big database, Serval says.
That's where artificial intelligence comes in, says Daniel Kraft, MD, founder of Digital.Health, which helps individuals figure out which type of monitoring to use. He spoke on a CES panel about health and wellness technology. "No adopter, or individual, wants the raw data," he said. "We want the insights." Properly analyzed, data from disparate devices can be used to create a kind of credit score or "check engine light" for the body, he said.
The new streams of data can play a role in research as well, Kraft said. "All of us can take a player role in crowdsourcing healthcare, just like we crowdsource our driving with Google Maps or Waze and pool our information together, not just as blood donors but as data donors."
The new data can indeed be of use to clinicians, said Ami Bhatt, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief innovation officer of the American College of Cardiology. "Continuous blood pressure monitoring, if it is easy, accessible, and reliable, is going to be very important because hypertension remains an epidemic in our country and throughout the world," she said.
That said, she also points to potential pitfalls in bombarding ourselves with raw data from home monitoring devices. Overmeasurement can lead to anxiety. She offers the example of a patient prone to anxiety who has a low risk of atrial fibrillation. "I don't want them necessarily measuring their heart rate," she said, "because getting anxious will make your heart rate only go higher."
For that reason, she says, patients should always consult their doctors about what they are monitoring and why. "It's important to have a discussion," she said.
Kraft is founder of Digital Health. Serval is co-founder, chairman and CEO of Baracoda Group. Bhatt reported no relevant financial interests.
Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2022 Annual Meeting.
Laird Harrison writes about science, health, and culture. His work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, on public radio, and on websites. He is at work on a novel about alternate realities in physics. Harrison teaches writing at the Writers Grotto. Visit him at lairdharrison.com or follow him on Twitter: @LairdH.
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Cite this: The Future of Home Health Monitoring - Medscape - Jan 12, 2022.