Thursday, September 1, 2016

High-tech health devices are coming home


A few months ago, I approached the nurse’s station at a hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit ready for my first visit with our newly-minted grandchildren. But before I could enter the unit, I was told I had to have my temperature checked to be sure I didn’t have a fever. Fair enough, I thought, as I opened my mouth.

But instead of placing a glass tube under my tongue, the nurse swiped a plastic wand across my forehead and told me I was good to go. Wow, I thought, that’s something our daughter could use after babies the came home. No one likes to be poked and probed, especially children who might be asleep or fighting a fever.

The wand thermometer that the hospital used was a lot like the new Thermo device made by Withings, a company that specializes in personal medical trackers and devices. The Thermo (shown above) measures body temperature from the temporal artery on the side of the forehead without making contact with the skin where the reading might be impaired by lotion or moisture.

Temperature readings are delivered in about two seconds on an LED display, so it can be used in a dark room. Readings are color-coded so you immediately know if the temperature is normal, elevated or high based on the patient’s age.

Thermo also records and stores readings for up to eight family members. Using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, temperature readings are sent to a Withings mobile app and logged in a journal for each family member along with notes about additional symptoms or causes.

The Thermo is just the latest example of how technology is bringing advanced medical devices into our daily lives. Another example is the new Upper arm blood pressure monitor (left) made by Philips.

Like the monitors used by health care professionals, the device measures systolic and diastolic pressure and heart rate. And, like the Thermo thermometer, it transmits readings to a mobile app where they are compared to classifications adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Society for Hypertension (ISH) for normal home blood pressure. The readings for two different users are collected by Philips’ smartphone app and added to a chart showing changes over time.

The Reliefband is a wristband designed to prevent motion sickness by transmitting a mild vibration. Users can wear the band when they go boating, fly in a small plane or board a ride at an amusement park. The wristband uses a technique called neuromodulation which alters nerves with electrical stimulation aimed at targeted sites in the body.

In this case, the stimulation is a mild tingling sensation targeted at the neural pathways that run between the brain and the stomach. Reliefband’s website says the modulation restores normal gastric rhythm and that’s what relieves nausea.

And then there’s the Gyenno Cup, a smart water bottle that can help users prevent dehydration. The cup tracks how much liquid you drink and when you drink it. If you’ve gone too long without water, it vibrates to tell you to take another gulp.

The washable cup also has a screen that displays the time, date, weather, current temperature of the liquid inside and how much more you need to drink to meet your consumption goal. It also warns you if the liquid is too hot or if the cup needs cleaning.

In other words, it acts a lot like my wife.


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Follow me on Twitter @ricmanning and read my technology columns at My Well Being.


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