Innovation was once again the key topic as the annual International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) conference wrapped up on January 9th in Las Vegas. Attendance this year was record-breaking, with 170,000 attendees and 3,600 exhibitors. From 3D printing to 4K televisions, electronics for all facets of life were on full display.
In health news, last year the conference focused on the emerging trend of wearables. This year, wearables were still front and center but with a twist: now more than ever, wearables are monitoring crucial health data, not just tracking exercise. And when it comes to health care and fitness, one thing was made clear at CES 2015: now more than ever, technology is key.
At a panel discussion on January 6th, the opening day of the conference, Dr. Daniel Kraft of Singularity University and Exponential Medicine, Tim Moore of Rochester Optical, and Robert Scoble of Rackspace Hosting joined moderator John Nosta, president of NostaLab at the CES Health Summit to discuss some of the hottest topics in health technology.
Wearables remain as hot as ever, with an increasing focus on collecting data less related to fitness activities and more related to health. Panelists all agreed that key to the success of the newest wearables will be the seamless integration of data tracking, accuracy, and integration across devices and for users that include doctors.
Telemedicine is the increasing practicing of having doctors consult via Skype or other online platform. This is a solution that works well for medically underserved areas when the cost of bringing in a specialist is prohibitive or geographically impossible. Dr. Phil McGraw, talk show host and founder of the telemedicine service Doctor on Demand, was there speaking about his smartphone app that has been downloaded one million times.
Dr. Phil notes:
“With Doctor on Demand, you don’t have to get dressed, you don’t have to wait two weeks for an appointment, you don’t have to sit in a waiting room where everyone’s sick. You push a button and get it dealt with right there.”
Doctor on Demand also recently added a mental health service. In many rural areas, mental health services are non-existent, and telemedicine offers a way to address that issue affordably and consistently with just an internet connection or smartphone.
From consulting on complex surgical cases to evaluating a patient for a prescription refill, panelists agreed that telemedicine was technology worth watching in the coming years.
Nanomedicine, nanotechnology for medical applications, was another exciting focus at the CES 2015 Health Summit. Commercial applications of this technology including engineering medicines that are more effective on a molecular level, new therapies, and in vivo imaging. Particularly with regard to pharmaceutical development, this is an area that will see more research and interest as supportive technologies advance.
Without a doubt one of the fastest growing and most promising areas discussed by the panelists was 3D printing technology. The applications of this technlogy are nearly endless. Panelists envision the practicality of using 3D printers in medical education to print scale models of organs for students, as well as the ability to use 3D printers to print necessary medical tools and devices in space.
In the overall take-away from the Health Summit, panelists stressed that with telemedicine, wearables that collect more accurate health statistics, and less of a focus on genomic sequencing, the global health landscape is changing and moving into a more technical, virtual realm.
It wouldn’t be an electronics show without gadgets, and CES 2015 had plenty on offer.
AmpStrip: This gadget is like a fitness-tracking bandage. Placed on your left abdomen, this waterproof tracker monitors heart rate, skin temperature, and user’s movements for up to one week, even when submerged. It will be available in July 2015.
InBody Band: Instead of stepping on a scale, strap on InBody Band for a more accurate measurement of health. InBody Band sends an electrical pulse through the wearer’s body and measures impedence. This then translates into how much of the wearer’s body is fat and how much is muscle, resulting in a body composition score. This wearable also tracks heart rate, activity, and sleep and will be available to consumers in March.
Zensorium Being: Who says technology cannot be zen? This wearable tracks activity, heart rate, and sleep but goes one step further: it also tracks the wearer’s feelings. Zensorium Being measures the wearer’s pulse pressure, which is the difference in blood pressure as it pulses combined with the heart rate. This is actually a measure of stress, and Zensorium Being notes stress levels with a red, yellow, or blue dot.
Quell: Generating by far the most wearable gadget buzz at CES 2015 was Quell, the wearable device that promises a 100% prescription-free way to manage pain. Worn strapped around the lower leg, just under the knee, Quell sends electric impulses to the brain, which in turn releases natural opioids to lessen the pain. A single charge powers Quell for 40 hours, and the device is Bluetooth-capable, allowing the wearer to track use of the device as well as sleep quality and quantity (a good indicator of pain relief). This wearable is approved by the Food & Drug Administration and will be available to consumers in the spring of 2015.
Other fitness gadgets featured at CES 2015 worked on helping consumers exercise properly. The SmartMat Yoga mat features sensors that offer corrections on form and alignment when taking a virtual yoga class in the comfort of your home, and the XON Snow-1 bindings for snowboarders help beginning boarders learn to distribute their weight properly. This is key for balance and control when headed down the hill. Finally, the Tao Chair developers promise fitness while sitting in your living room. The arms of the chair offer different isometric exercises that target problem areas for men and women. The chair coaches the user through each exercise and offers feedback and statistics on calories burned.
Did you make it to CES 2015? What products or innovations were you most excited about?
Image by Boegh via Flickr