Wearable Technology: From Fitness Trackers to Bionic Limbs

Day by day we become increasingly familiar with wearable devices and frequent advancements in technology. In the past few decades the world has drifted from an analog world to a digital world. Recent years have seen the integration of technological science with the medical field, and it’s about time for us to understand this growing field of technology. And, most importantly, what and where we are headed towards in terms of medical technology.

Other than the traditional medical technology used in hospitals, more devices with implication for health are being used by everyday consumers. Devices like smartwatch and other fitness trackers have been around us for over a decade. The technological world is trying to implement Bluetooth and GPS modules with the smartwatch for application like tracking the physical workout, heartbeat regulation as well as developing applications which guide you what should be your next move in terms of workout.

Everything here boils down to a concept known as Machine Learning. It is a branch of science where you give brain to your computer. Precise algorithms and search technologies make these devices ‘think’. In some applications these wearable devices are connected to other monitoring stations which can be actually used as progress data by medical practitioners. These day’ people are trying to make your shoes “smart” too! With GPS tagging and implantation of force sensors, people are made aware of location as well for the weight distribution over the surface area of the shoe.

Consumers have not yet embraced wearable health technology in large numbers, but they’re interested. More than 80 percent of consumers said an important benefit of wearable technology is its potential to make healthcare more convenient. Companies hoping to exploit this nascent interest will have to create affordable products offering greater value for both users and their healthcare partners.

There are three notable benefits of wearable technology,

  1. Simplicity and ease in use
  2. Healthier in living
  3. Improved safety

And the benefits increase with each innovation. One day I happened to speak with an entrepreneur over his thoughts over wearable technology. His words actually gave a totally different definition to the word “smart.” He said “While having a jog on the Brooklyn bridge wearing my smart shoe, I got an alert on my smartwatch about how many calories I need to have in my breakfast when I am home, what I need to buy from the grocery store to meet my calorie requirement. My pulse monitor decided the workout activities to be done tomorrow. The application for my shoe gave me information which path to follow according to my strength levels. I refer all this in two words: Redefining Smart.”

In the realm of technology smart has an entirely new meaning. Wearable devices have overtaken much of the mundane tedium of daily tasks. But other than being the Jarvis to complete your errands and track your vitals, interactive technology has even further implications in the medical field. Just last year scientists have announced progress on an entirely robotic limb, fully-functioning through thought commands. So the intelligence of “smart” technology will soon be able to mimic nature.

So, where are we headed? It’s a difficult question to answer, but these wearable devices are making the human race think and do things which can be simply defined as “out of the box.” It may not be a far reach to imagine fully-functioning bionic limbs or neurological implants in the near future. But as long as these devices are made beneficial and human-centered, they could have a huge impact on the medical field and, more broadly, humanity as a whole.

Maheen Mohammad & Jas Sheth