These connected technologies are revolutionising the health industry
Going digital isn’t all about entertainment, it can also save lives.
Earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, all sorts of gadgets and whizz-bang inventions were on display.
While some open a window to a future where potentially nobody needs a driver’s licence and all customer service is provided by robots, others were more focused on changing people’s lives from a health perspective.
Health innovations are being developed to improve patient comfort, reduce the pressure faced by medical staff and close the gap between metropolitan and regional health centres.
They are aiming to make life easier for the disabled and increase the general wellness of the population.
These are some connected technologies that are already changing health care or will be in the future:
By connecting with fast broadband, practitioners around the world are able to provide better medical treatment for people who live in regional and remote areas.
An example of this is in India, where an increasing diabetes epidemic is presenting huge problems for those outside of central hubs.
By combining wireless glucose monitors, smartphone apps and computerised notifications, doctors are able to more effectively manage ongoing treatment for diabetics.
Back home in Australia, medical experts are working on giving remote cancer patients access to clinical trials.
The model under development uses specialists and trial coordinators to help treat and manage patients who could be hundreds of miles away.
In Queensland and other Australian states, patients are already able to access videoconferencing facilities.
These allow someone to see and speak to a health professional without the need to travel long distances.
Automated diagnosis and long-distance surgeons
Currently available in the UK, the Babylon app relies on artificial intelligence to analyse symptoms, telling you if it thinks your chest pain is heart burn or something more serious.
After asking you a few questions about your condition, the app will let you know if it thinks an appointment is needed and will even connect you to a waiting physician via video chat.
Taking the technology of robots beyond the screen, human-controlled machines are already being trialled and used to perform keyhole surgery.
Building on telemedicine, this technology could make operations more accessible and more affordable for people in remote areas.
According to Fortune.com, within five years, one in three US surgeries is expected to be performed by “robotic systems, with surgeons sitting at computer consoles guiding mechanical arms.”
The latest development in robotic surgery is something known as ‘haptic feedback’, which uses highly sophisticated sensors to allow surgeons to even sense pressure and resistance when operating a robot.
This gives them the ability to basically ‘feel’ the difference between hard cancerous and soft healthy tissues as they perform surgery.
Sight and sound
Connected technology is truly revolutionising life for the vision and hearing impaired.
Demonstrated at the 2017 CES conferences was a new gadget that incorporates a light sensor and camera into a pair of glasses.
Connecting via Bluetooth, the glasses can stream what the wearer is seeing using an advanced software system that understands depth and focus.
Developed by an Austrian company, ‘ViewPointSystem’ is designed to help the vision impaired and can also allow senior physicians to support new doctors while they perform medical procedures.
A similar device, Aira, uses smart glasses to link to a remote ‘agent’ who can view transmitted images in real time. These agents can be volunteers, family members or carers.
By seeing what is around the other person, they can give advice on crossing the street, making purchases and preparing meals.
Also on display at CES was the first internet connected hearing aid. Small and streamlined, Oticon Opn can be linked to a mobile phone or email account to provide visual updates.
It can also connect to IoT devices, meaning sounds like doorbells could be delivered straight to the wearer’s ear.
For caregivers, it is possible to receive a smartphone alert via the hearing aid that their patient or family member is up out of bed or moving around.
It has long been known that the amount of sleep you get can directly affect your health.
For those suffering from sleep apnoea, a new wearable is being trialled that acts to detect the disorder and help sufferers improve their sleep quality.
Using artificial intelligence and multiple sensors, MOTIO HW learns about the user, collecting data about their sleep patterns and transmitting it to their connected device.
Once they understand their sleeping habits, MOTIO can help the user to take better control of their condition.
For some perhaps less-serious nighttime problems, new device Nora operates by wirelessly sensing when a person starts snoring.
When the sound hits a certain point, it activates an expander that adjusts the angle of their head from under their pillow.
This is aimed at opening the airways and providing a better night’s sleep for both partner and snorer.
Forget bracelets, wearables to encourage better health and fitness are now available as waterproof pendants and rings. While the technology of wearables to track fitness isn’t brand new, it is increasing in its sensitivity and the health indicators it is able to monitor.
Beyond steps, sleep and heart rate, new era fitness trackers can monitor blood pressure, check vision performance, judge weightlifting technique or offer notifications about fatigue levels.
With the help of access to fast broadband, these innovative devices and many more are making a difference to public health and wellbeing around the world.
You can use connectivity to access all kinds of fitness services from within your own lounge room. See how nbn teamed up with Tim Robards to develop an effective home workout routine.