They say 2015 is going to be the year of the “smartwatch”, with the imminent launch of the new Apple Watch being the latest in a series of wrist-worn devices now streaming into the consumer market place.
Among other things, these truly micro computers are supposed to be able to help with health and fitness by keeping track of vital signs, like pulse, oxygen saturation, respiratory rates, sleep cycles and temperature, as well as monitoring our exercise regimes.
But just how useful are these devices going to be and can they contribute to our general health and safety? Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons:
- Ability to monitor activity and vital signs continuously and over extended periods to highlight any sudden or unexpected variation.
- Provide benchmarks that enable you to set targets for improving health and physical activity.
- Can be used to provide data directly to health care professionals and connect with electronic patient records.
- Specialized products with the ability to monitor people suffering from high blood pressure, epilepsy and diabetes.
It’s not all pluses for smart watches. For a start, they are still in their early stages of development and most models have to be connected (wirelessly) to a smartphone. Setting these up can be a cumbersome and frustrating experience.
Second, by definition, they are small and functionality can be limited – especially if you have big hands!
And third, like smart phones, they are a potential distraction, especially linked to phone capabilities, which could lead to potential dangers while driving.
Not too far down the road to the future, expect smart watches to play an increasingly important role in health care. For example, devices are being developed that can actually deliver drugs through the skin.
It’s also possible to imagine paramedics being able to download personal health details from a sick or injured person to enable them to administer the most effective emergency treatment.