The CES 2016 in Las Vegas saw a ton of new tools for digital health. Are these gadgets diamonds in the rough or duds? We'll let you decide.
If something can be monitored in the human body, there's probably a device or app at this year's CES to do the job. There were big announcements this week about Fitbit's new Blaze watch and IBM Watson and Medtronic partnering on a device to monitor blood glucose levels.
Here's a look at some of the health trackers not made by Fitbit and IBM:
The e-Celsius Performance is a swallow-able thermometer that continuously monitors body temperature, sending the user a message if their core temperature goes above or below their set threshold. It's marketed to endurance athletes who might be training in extreme heat or cold and need to monitor their bodies for signs of hyperthermia or hypothermia. No word yet on how it actually gets out of the body once it's in there.
Also measuring body temperature (but less invasively) is the Fever Scout. It's a flexible, breathable patch that's worn on the skin near the armpit. The rechargeable device is aimed at parents with sick kids, so its sensors send signals via a smartphone app when the wearer's temperature goes above a set level.
VivaLnk, the company who makes Fever Scout, unveiled Vital Scout at this year's show. Think of it like a Fitbit in patch form. The patch, which is rechargeable, is worn on the chest and measures heart rate, stress (based on heart rate variability), sleep, and activity.
In case that's not enough monitoring devices, there's also the Mocacare, a keychain with a sensor that measures heart rate and blood oxygen level by scanning the user's thumbprint. There's also the QardioCore, a chest strap with connecting ends shaped like the ends of two hockey sticks high-fiving each other that monitors heart rate, heart rate variability, body temperature, respiratory rate, activity, and stress levels.
Also unveiled at this year's show, the Levl is a device that detects acetone in a user's exhaled breath, signaling that they're burning fat. The device, which looks like an inhaler, then sends that information to a smartphone app that gives the user an estimate of how many pounds of fat per day they're burning.
Companies touting devices to help manage specific conditions were also a big presence at the show.
For people with celiac disease, there's Nima, a small, triangle-shaped device that can test food samples for hidden gluten. Users put a tiny bit of food into a compartment and the device takes two minutes to detect the presence or absence of gluten antibodies. The company is working on sensors for other allergens like peanuts and dairy.
HelpAround is an app that acts like a safety network for people with diabetes. It connects them with other users so they can send out alerts if they find themselves stranded without needed supplies or medications. The idea is to build up a network of enough people so there will be a fellow diabetic nearby who can help them.
For people who have to carry an EpiPen at all times in case of a severe allergic reaction, Veta is a tool to help them remember. It's an EpiPen case that connects with a smartphone app and alerts the user if they've left their pen at home, or anywhere else. It also sends a notification if the EpiPen is above or below a set temperature range, and can notify selected people if the pen's auto injector is removed, signalling that they may have had a medical emergency.
Finally, LumiWave offers infrared light therapy for pain sufferers. How the heck does that work, you ask? It stimulates the production of nitric oxide in the body, which can repair damaged tissue and reduce pain.
Are wearable, connected devices like these the future of healthcare or just shiny new things? Tell us in the comments.
IBM Watson ups the ante on digital wellness with gene-based health app (TechRepublic)
CES 2016: Withings opts for colorful, approachable, and practical in IoT (TechRepublic)
CES 2016 Unveiled: A first look in photos (TechRepublic)