Innovations in Health

Wearable Tech May Have Diagnostic Uses in Future

2018-07-05

Canadian researchers in Waterloo, Ontario have found a way to use artificial intelligence (AI) and data from wearable, health-monitoring technology to detect potential health problems in users. Many of our clients are FitBit owners (or use a comparable product). This comes as no surprise, as 1 in 6 people in the United States of America owns a fitness tracker and over 3.5 million of them have been sold here in Canada. These devices are fantastic for monitoring activity from day to day, with basic models counting steps and more advanced products monitoring the user’s heart rate, cardio fitness level and sleep patterns. They’ll even provide guided mediation and encourage the user to move if their daily goal isn’t being reached! It’s amazing what these popular devices can do – but imagine if they not only monitored one’s health but also detected potential issues on the horizon.

How fitness trackers can predict illness

Most fitness trackers on the market today feature the ability to recover data about one’s aerobic activity. Knowing this, students of the Applied Health Science and Engineering faculty at the University of Waterloo looked into what could be done with this data using AI. A group of male participants in their 20s wore shirts covered in sensors for four days, tracking things like breathing and heart rate. An AI program then analyzed the data. The result? Researchers found that by tracking fitness and activity levels, they could detect potential health risks by measuring changes to a person’s physical response to aerobic activity – for example, how their heart rate reacted to comparable activity over time. In theory, the same process could be applied to data from your fitness tracker wristband or other personal health device.

The future of tech for health

Fitness trackers are often used to encourage physical activity and improve fitness levels in individuals. At present, they are preventative only in that they encourage wellness and exercise, which has a link to one’s health. However, if these AI programs became commonplace and were available for consumer purchase, we would have the ability to detect medical problems before they become obvious. Type II Diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are two examples of health issues that could potentially be detected by wearable tech. As this research is new and limited, the possibilities are endless and yet to be discovered.

We care about the health, wealth and happiness of our clients, and are dedicated to supporting their well-being in all of these areas. Thanks for reading, and please share this post with anyone who may find it interesting or helpful.