The Rise of Wearable Devices: Can They Benefit Your Health?
Wearable technology is a relatively recent concept, and is becoming increasingly popular. Although the market isn’t quite as substantial in the UK as it is in the US, a YouGov survey suggests that numbers of people using wearable devices will double by the end of 2015, and penetration will reach as high as 13%.
Wearable Devices: The Features
There are now a large number of wearable devices available to buy, such as Google Glass, Fitbit trackers and Pebble Steel. Of course, there’s a lot of diversity in terms of features and functions; but here’s just a few things that wearable devices can do.
- Measure vital signs. Certain devices can measure heart-rate, blood pressure and even levels of glucose in the blood.
- Levels of fitness. Much like a pedometer, wearable devices can keep track of how many steps you’ve taken and how far you’ve travelled.
- Set reminders. On some devices, you can set up reminders to take medication or to attend appointments.
- Stay connected. Some even enable you to stay in touch with people, at the swipe of the screen.
What are the Benefits?
The question that most people want to know is: Just what real benefits can these devices offer in terms of health? Many of the companies responsible for the wearables are making sizeable claims, indicating that the devices support a healthier lifestyle and can reduce the chances of developing serious health problems.
Here’s just a few of the suggested benefits of using a wearable.
- Set fitness goals. Certain wearable devices, such as the Microsoft Band, enable you to not only monitor how much exercise you’ve done, but to also set fitness goals. It also presents your daily levels of exercise statistically, allowing you to see how well you’re progressing.
- Reminder function. The reminder function is particularly useful for those who need to take regular medication throughout the day; or even those suffering with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
- Measuring heart-rate. Being able to effectively measure heart-rate, blood-pressure and glucose levels has significant implications for those at higher risk of heart disease, or those who suffer from diabetes. This function enables the individual to monitor and potentially control their condition more effectively.
Developing a Cure for Parkinson’s Disease Sufferers?
The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research recently teamed with Intel to produce a device that provided accurate data from existing Parkinson’s sufferers. The data measured tremors, sleep patterns and balance, and is planned to be used to help support research into a cure for the condition.
Diane Bryant, senior vice president of Intel’s Data Centre Group, says: ‘Emerging technologies can not only create a new paradigm for measurement of Parkinson’s, but as more data is made available to the medical community, it may also point to currently unidentified features of the disease that could lead to new areas of research.”
Just a Fad, or Genuine Health Benefit?
At present, whilst the market is still developing, it’s difficult to say whether or not wearable devices will offer any real benefits in terms of health. However, if statistics from the US are anything to go by, it looks as though wearable technology will be on the rise over the next few years. According to research, 82% of Americans felt that their lives were enhanced by their wearable devices. Whether the same trend occurs in the UK remains to be seen.