Healthcare technology developers are pushing the envelope of app and medical product innovation, which is very good news for consumers around the world. Advances in healthcare technologies mean healthier populations and better access to treatment when needed. It also eliminates unnecessary visits to doctors, hospitals and costly procedures.
Moving past entertainment and lifestyle apps, some of the largest technology companies in the world are expanding their creativity to saving lives. Apple, for instance, is making significant strides in their efforts to incorporate a blood sugar tracker in their Apple watch. Still, under wraps, the technology will be a life changer for millions of diabetes sufferers who must closely monitor their blood sugar levels on a routine basis. A less invasive method, such as what will be provided by Apple’s smartwatch, will be good news for diabetes patients.
Researchers at UNIST and the Internal Medicine Department of Kyungpook National University are working on a smart contact lens that will monitor glucose levels in the wearer, serving as an early-warning system for diabetes, glaucoma, and other conditions tied to hyperglycemia. The sensors are actually electrodes constructed from transparent and highly flexible graphene sheets. There will also be a wireless antenna embedded in the sensor. The goal is that patients will be able to self-monitor their blood sugar levels and the antenna will transmit important medical data directly to their physicians.
Researchers have developed a 3D printed wearable sensor that is worn in the ear. The sensors detect fluctuations in body temperature, which if present, are transmitted via Bluetooth to a smartphone app that can be accessed by the wearer’s healthcare professional. Fluctuations in body temperature could indicate problems with metabolic function.
Away from the bells and whistles of wearable and 3D printing, and IoT technology is the Swedish School of Textiles where researchers are developing a reusable sanitary napkin. Scientists Lena Berglin and Karin Hogberg are working on something called SpacerPAD specifically for women in developing countries. Hogberg, who spent some time in Kenya, observed the difficulties women experience living in the slums of the country’s inner city, in crowded conditions, without access to proper materials for their menstrual cycle. The women resorted to rags, but in countries where menstruation is very much a taboo subject, even this approach causes problems. The SpacerPAD is constructed from recycled materials which means the woman can rinse it out after use and following a quick dry, she can use the same pad once again. At the end of her cycle, she can boil the pads to remove any bacterial growth.
Even the online giant Amazon has joined the world of healthcare technology development. Their secret development laboratory, code-named 1492, is working on a number of initiatives designed to improve healthcare delivery. For instance, researchers are developing a platform that would retrieve data from electronic medical records that could be transmitted to doctors and consumers, making a channel for telemedicine. This is good news for many consumers who simply do not have the time to visit the doctor’s office, or are reluctant to go for personal reasons.