Ultrathin and Flexible Microfiber Sensor for Healthcare Monitoring and Diagnosis

Researchers at the National University of Singapore have developed an ultrathin, flexible microfiber sensor that can be worn on or placed next to the skin. The device can provide information on heart rate, blood pressure, and stiffness in blood vessels, and may one day replace bulky blood pressure and heart rate monitors. The technology might also be useful as a component in wearable devices that provide continuous health monitoring, or could help doctors with diagnostics. “Currently, doctors will monitor vital signs like heart rate and blood pressure when patients visit clinics. This requires equipment such as heart rate and blood pressure monitors, which is often bulky and may not provide instantaneous feedback,” says Lim Chwee Teck, a researcher involved in the study. The research team set out to design something that could integrate with wearable devices and that is smaller, more portable, and less expensive than equivalent traditional equipment. Their design incorporates a liquid metallic alloy, which acts as a sensing element, within a soft and flexible silicone microtube. The sensing element is highly sensitive to mechanical deformation, and when placed on the skin can...

Wearables Move Toward Health Sector in Europe

Goal is low cost, printable, high quality electronic devices making an essential contribution to digital healthcare. There have been signs in Europe of softening demand for wearables monitoring fitness and sport performance. But the health sector of the European wearables market is full of optimism about the future. The sector is considered to have reached a stage where it needs to go in a new direction to fulfil the huge potential it has in the digital society of the future. The vision is of a sector of low cost, printable but high quality electronic devices making an essential, long term contribution to digital healthcare. Market researchers are forecasting double digit growth in wearables sales through to at least the mid-2020s, with much of the increase in demand coming from medical devices, measuring heart rhythms, blood pressure patterns, glucose levels and other clinical indicators. Wearables will be designed and made to deal with more specific medical conditions than at present. They will become a major source of data for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals and researchers conducting clinical trials and expanding knowledge on the causes and treatment of...

Worldwide Wearables Market Climbs 26.1% in 2Q 2016

Shipments of wearable devices reached 22.5 million in the second quarter of 2016, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker. Despite a decline in shipments for one of the largest vendors, the overall market for wearable devices grew 26.1% year over year as new use cases are slowly starting to emerge. “Fitness is the low-hanging fruit for wearables,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. “However, the market is evolving and we’re starting to see consumers adopt new functionality, such as communication and mobile payments, while enterprises warm to wearables’ productivity potential.” While the overall wearables market grew during 2Q16, its two categories traveled at different speeds and directions. Basic wearables (devices that do not support third party applications) grew 48.8% from 2Q15 levels, while smart wearables (devices that support third party applications) declined 27.2% year over year. “Basic wearables, which include most fitness trackers, have benefited from a combination of factors: a clear value proposition for end-users, an abundant selection of devices from multiple vendors,...

Designing Wearables that Last: Five Approaches to Conserving and Extending Battery Life

Automatically switching to low-power mode, energy harvesting, low-power display among possible solutions. Short battery life has been repeatedly cited as a big pain point for wearable devices and as a primary reason for their abandonment. Most recently, a survey by J.D. Power found that short battery life is the most common problem consumers have with their smart watch. While the perfect formula to achieve long battery life has yet to be cracked, developers are utilizing various approaches to enable their devices to last longer: • Automatically switching to low-power mode. In this approach, the device identifies events during which the full-power consumption is not required. For example, PetSimple’s pet location tracking device uses proximity Bluetooth tracking to determine when a pet is in a safe area, and in such instances, the device enters a low-power mode where CDMA coverage and GPS tracking are not utilized. In this way, the company is able to offer a device with a battery of one month to three months, which it claims is 10x longer than competing technologies. Low-power components, such as the Wi-Fi chip developed by GainSpan, also fall within this category. Through the...

Philips unveils wearable wireless vitals patch that goes from hospital to home

By Stacy Lawrence Royal Philips has debuted a novel wireless patient monitoring product that it expects will be used to monitor patients in the hospital, as well as after they return home. It's all part of the bigger picture for the imaging giant, which is working hard to refocus itself entirely on healthcare technology and to shed its lighting businesses. Learn more

FDA clears wireless, vitals monitor patch that transmits to smartphone

By Stacy Lawrence Keeping track of patients once they leave the hospital is no easy task. But that could soon become a whole lot easier. The FDA has cleared HealthPatch MD, a small, wireless biosensor patch worn on the chest that can track a number of vital signs and biometric measurements. The sensor connects to a smartphone to relay data to a healthcare provider. The patch rolls several devices into one, including a heart rate monitor, pedometer, thermometer and fall detector. The FDA cleared the patch to function as a single-lead ECG as well as to monitor heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate, skin temperature, steps taken and body posture (including fall detection that rates severity). Learn more

U.K. firms team up to develop mental health-tracking wearable devices

Cambridge Cognition and Ctrl Group have teamed up to develop mental health-focused wearables. The initiative will tap into Cambridge Cognition’s experience making software to test for depression, schizophrenia and dementia in an attempt to bring Fitbit-style monitoring to mental health.