Wirelessly enabled health and fitness devices featured prominently at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, indicating their potential for a wider consumer take-up during 2012. A 3G-enabled glucometer for diabetes, a body monitoring patch, a heart monitoring band, sensor technology that can be built into headphones, a wearable weight loss device, a health monitoring device, a personal emergency service and an alliance that wants to monitor a car driver’s health while they are on the move all were active at last week’s event.
Two of the 25 TechZones at the show were reserved for digital health products and more than 170 exhibitors offfered such products as part of the show’s Digital Health and Fitness category. Most were far from being household names. The companies and products mentioned above were Telcare’s Glucose Meter, the Metria Sensor Patch, the Basis B1 Band, Valencell’s V-Link technology, the BodyMedia FIT, Zensorium’s Tinke and Zomm’s Lifestyle Connect. Although unfamiliar, some might have a commercial breakthrough this year.
In contrast was arguably the most high-profile mobile health announcement at the show: It was made by Ford, Microsoft, technology design firm BlueMetal Architects and Healthrageous, a firm that encourages users to manage their own health. The partners announced an alliance to research technology that will enable users to monitor their health even when in their cars.
Microsoft’s role is to work out how to translate sensory data gathered by a vehicle into an app that can engage with the user through a voice and touchscreen-based interface. It will also integrate biometric data gathered by a device worn by the user. The information is then uploaded into Microsoft’s HealthVault, its electronic medical record system.
Finally Eric Topol, mobile health thinker and vice chairman of the West Wireless Health Institute, showed off two new monitoring devices. He also reiterated his prediction from last month's mHealth Summit that the future will see embedded body sensors combining with smartphone apps to predict heart attacks before they happen. Perhaps 2012 might be too early for this service to be realised commercially.