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25th Aug 2022

Wearables in Healthcare: What’s Next?

Charlotte Stoker

Fitbit, Garmin, Apple Watch, whatever team you’re on, with 48% of the UK having owned a smartwatch, there’s a good chance you’ve been one of those fitness-watch-steps-obsessed people at some point. But new, emerging developments in wearables go a bit further than tracking how many calories you burnt at last night’s spin class. Think of crazy sci-fi developments that transcend what you even thought was possible. Think electric skin, think smart contact lenses. And no, we’re not joking, you’ll be putting tech in your eyes before you know it.  

So, the question is what’s next for wearables in our healthcare sector?  

Wearables Role in Healthcare

Wearables have the potential to revolutionise and push the boundaries of the healthcare market. They are able to constantly observe and harness data on a plethora of vitals in the human body. Not to mention that they can do all of this 24/7 from a remote location, abolishing the need for in-person appointments, enhancing the patient experience. This is something that has been imperative to the expansion of telehealth and ‘at home’ care capabilities for hospitals, but some of the latest advancements we’ve been seeing are an absolute game changer. 

Techy 2 Eyes

Cast your mind back to when Google Glass smart glasses were released, ultimately, they were a bit of flop (sorry Google). Whether this was down to them being a little too ahead of their time, or potentially (probably) the steep $1,500 pricetag, we may never know. The glasses have since been remarketed as a device for workers in the likes of logistics and manufacturing industries. But the next revolutionary eyewear tech? Contact Lenses.  

Tech in your contact lenses. We know what you’re thinking; what the hell? But the truth is that smart contact lens could be the ultimate wearable rather than just the ultimate science-fiction accessory. Smart contact lenses will essentially be like an implant that won’t require surgery and can be taken on or off. There’s a race already happening to create the first top tech lenses of the future, ones which could give super-human vision, video cameras, medical sensors and more, all from your eyes.  

But since we’re looking at healthcare, I’ll stick to that element for now. The tear fluids in our eyes are packed with proteins and biomarkers, making it the perfect data centre for physiological information. There’s still some development needed to create the first healthcare smart lenses, but clinical trials have demonstrated that tear fluid can be used to detect glucose levels, making them effective for diabetic diagnosis and conditions related to blood glucose regulation disorders such as strokes and heart disease.  

Next Level Baby Monitoring

Is there anything cuter than a baby’s sock? Well, now that adorable wardrobe item is evolving into a piece of tech that could be lifesaving. Owlet’s award-winning technology turns a sock into something able to measure a baby’s heart-rate, oxygen levels and sleep trends, empowering parents with real time data and the knowledge that their child is sleeping safe and sound.  

Next up, the device set to be a catalyst for a reduction in child mortality in Africa, Neopenda’s Neoguard. Babies born in areas of Africa have a lower chance of survival due to a plethora of reasons, one being inadequate hospitals. Newborn babies need care around the clock  including consistent vital checks. Neopenda’s Neoguard solution is a ‘headband’-like device able to measure four primary vital signs, harnessing critical data so that healthcare professionals can initiate rapid response. The wearable tech can be used on both adults and babies alike but is set to reinvent newborn care in Africa.  

Together in Electronic Skin

Electronic skin might be the most mind-blowing one we’ve found yet. Intertwining the realms of tech and healthcare. At its core, electronic skin is meant to mimic real human skin with the ability to respond to its surroundings. Originally designed to cater to emerging developments in robotics, it has now been realised that this tech could pioneer advancements in healthcare.   

Materials scientist John Rogers has led a team at Northwestern University to develop electronic skin-like materials able to read and harness vitals. Among the many many uses for electronic skin, one of the devices has been designed to sit at the bottom of the throat as a Bluetooth-connected piece of polymer and circuitry designed to provide real-time monitoring of heart rate, breathing and talking. The device could bring on big advancements for patients who have had a stroke or require speech therapy.  

Next Steps

At Halston group, we’re pretty confident in saying that we know our sh*t, but we’re always learning. Our research never stops to ensure we have full, deep understand of each and every one of the industries that we thrive in. Our last whitepaper Entering the Greentech Era was a smash hit, but we’re not stopping there. Our upcoming whitepaper is all about new developments in the MedTech landscape, so, if you found this blog interesting, just wait until you see the full project come to fruition! 

‘MedTech and HealthTech, the New Realm of Patient Care’ is coming soon. Sign up here to be the first to recieve a copy once we’ve launched!