Wearable electronics are becoming the talk of the town and deemed to be the game-changing development in the tech world along with the fashion industry. Consumers are witnessing a continuous flow of new products that are entering the market almost every day. Moreover, wearable technology has become a buzzword among consumers and marketers.
Wearable devices are now flooded in the global market that offers varied functionalities such as mobile connectivity, activity tracking, and medical monitoring. These devices gained popularity among consumers with the introduction of a range of products, from Fitbit Tracker and Apple Smartwatch to Fossil selling luxury devices along with BBK Electronics Corp. and Li-Ning. The latter offers step-counting shoes, while BBK is centered at manufacturing child health monitoring devices.
Wearable technology offers information related to health and fitness, which helps in living a better and proficient life. It comprises a variety of capabilities and most of the companies are leveraging advanced sensors to be embedded in their products such as shoes, watches, necklaces, and hand bands, and to enhance the preferred experience. This showcases the growing interest of tech brands and fashion companies in a new hybrid category. Innovations have been forthcoming for various wearable sensors products such as wearable sensor belts, t-shirts, and underwear.
For instance, In January 2020, Myant, a Canadian start-up, unveiled its line of smart products known as Skiin, including underwear embedded with sensors that continuously tracks physical activity, heart rate, and sleep, and can alert caregivers for risk of falls. Also, Asics, a Japanese sportswear firm, is planning to introduce connected insoles for running shoes that can analyze running performance and can help improve efficiency.
Wearable sensors have proven to be transformative technology which is helping both doctors and patients to overcome some of the challenges in traditional healthcare settings. Although these devices cannot replace the care via in-person doctor visits, they can provide alerts to patients and help doctors remotely monitor the patients.
Sophisticated Medical Wearable Sensors Underway to Monitor Coronavirus
Wearable technology is becoming more accurate, sophisticated, and cost-effective, and transforming the healthcare industry. In today’s era, rapid advances in technology have remarkably improved the scope of value-added healthcare with real-time health monitoring systems playing a pivotal role. Furthermore, the growing number of geriatric population has resulted in an increased demand for healthcare services, thereby potentially influencing the adoption of wearable sensors. Currently, China is experiencing a huge rise in the number of coronavirus cases, with the death toll at more than 630. In consequence, the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center is increasingly relying on wearable sensors to monitor the spread of the new disease. VivaLNK, a California-based company, announced that the center is using its continuous temperature sensor to battle the spread of coronavirus in the country. The wearable sensor is directly applied to the patient’s body that provides continuous and real-monitoring of changes in the body temperature. The data derived from the sensor is electronically sent to a remote observation dashboard at the nearest nursing station. Instead of physically checking the patient’s temperature every hour, it can be automatically and remotely monitored, thereby limiting patient-to-caregiver contact.
Miniaturized Wearable Sensors to Protect Chemical Attacks
The US Army with the help of Worcester Polytechnic Institute mathematicians is focusing on introducing thumbnail-sized chemical sensors that can be worn on outer garments which will help in indirectly detecting dangerous chemicals. The development is underway and it is built to replicate the human nose with 400 types of olfactory receptors to discern over different types of odors. Each of these sensors can detect one specific order of the chemical. This innovation is expected to improve the speed and accuracy of the device’s signal processing. With the combination of technology and power of data, this innovation will make greater strides in the future of detecting chemicals and saving lives.
Wearable Gas Sensors for Environment and Healthcare Monitoring
In January 2020, scientists from Penn State and Northeastern University developed a next-generation wearable gas sensor that will help in detecting biomarkers for medical conditions along with monitoring environmental pollutants. This device uses a self-healing mechanism that improves its sensitivity and is considered a significant upgrade to the existing wearable sensors. The researchers have used a laser to form a highly porous single layer of nanomaterial for wearable gas sensors. In addition, they have also created a series of layers coated with silver in the non-sensing portion of the device. When electrical current is applied on the silver coating, the gas sensor heats up due to significantly larger electrical resistance, removing the need for a separate heater. Also, few of the medical devices companies are working with the team to increase the production, in order to monitor a patient’s health as well as to enable environmental detection of pollutants affecting lungs and gaseous biomarker detection from the human body.
Wearable Sensors: Mapping the Road Ahead
Technology plays an important role in the lives of the people and is becoming heavily dependent on it. Humans are not willing to separate themselves from any technological advancements. From fitness trackers to Microsoft’s Hololens and Google Glass, the rise of wearable technology has influenced the overall technology scope to become smaller and faster at the same time. Likewise, wearable technology is becoming a part of the body and will aid in improving different cognitive abilities such as hearing senses and vision. In a few years to come, there will be highly advanced wearable sensors that will not only help in the prevention of diseases but also enable early detection by using nanoparticles connected to smart devices. The sensors will help in monitoring the movement of these nanoparticles in the bloodstream. When these particles enter into the bloodstream, it will be easier to precisely sense abnormal biomarkers such as cancer cells and communicate the information to wearable devices. With a wealth of such innovation on the horizon, the future of the wearable sensors looks bright and promising.