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2015 showcased several inventions to help improve management of health conditions and patient prognosis, and it seems 2016 is set to continue that trend. Let's take a look at some of the new technologies coming our way this year.
Wearables already have a large following, allowing the user to manage their own healthcare proactively, but what can follow the famous Fitbit? Well, now it seems you can monitor your own health and that of your family members too - all remotely.
New designs of existing wearables have conjured up comfort and fashion - something missing from current health tech. Some new devices are so small and unobtrusive they can be worn continuously - such as the Temptraq.
The Temptraq is a wireless underarm 'patch' thermometer. It isn't new, but it's been updated to offer 48 hours continuous usage and readings accessed from a Connect Service. A simple email will transmit the readings to caregivers. This may prove popular with parents concerned about their cold-filled school child.
Wearable weight management will remain popular in 2016. Polar Balance is offering a Balance Bluetooth Smartscale which sends weight and activity data to an app, which is a techy personal trainer calculated to keep the user on course.
It can recommend daily activities based on the collected data, and provide feedback on progress towards a weight goal.
The food calorie sensor is a tiny version of a spectrometer – it reads the chemical make up of foods when they are scanned. It pairs with a smartphone to give readings on the healthiness, or otherwise, of a food choice.
The SCiO allows consumers to make informed decisions about calories and freshness without poking fruits or memorising calorie tables.
Also in the popular weight management category is the Samsung WELT, a wellness belt that interacts with a smartphone to report steps, sitting times, eating habits and waistline size.
Taking this information the app calculates how much weight you'd gain unless something changes - a terrifying immediate motivator.
Not exactly a wearable is the LifeFuel nutrition and fitness bottle. The bottle adds vitamins and supplements from its FuelPod to the water section, and connects to an app which allows the user to track water intake.
In a world with increasing weight management problems, the Project Zero blood pressure monitor is set to support those with heart disease. It includes the traditional blood pressure upper arm cuff, but also has a wrist wearable that monitors blood pressure throughout the day. The data can be monitored by the user or by caregivers via email.
Omron Healthcare, who developed the monitor, state they 'want to help eliminate the risk of stroke and heart disease'.
The Petnet SmartBowl monitors how much to feed your pet based on their age, weight and activity.
This will enable pet owners to keep their pets at a healthy weight… which works well until the hungry animal finds food from another source!
Stroke is a big killer in the UK. Mobile stroke units inside specifically kitted-out ambulances can transmit blood tests and scans before arrival at the hospital. This is a big step forward for stroke patients as time lost before treatment is particularly important in relation to how much damage is done.
Pacemakers are shrinking. A 2016 version is 10% the size of a standard pacemaker and designed for just one heart chamber.
This is a new disinfection technology that kills bacteria in healthcare settings. The light kills environmental bacteria leading to cleaner, healthier medical settings and reducing the risk of patient infection.
Also known as SpaceOAR, this protects healthy body parts from radiation by providing an effective barrier. It's a big step towards supporting cancer patients, particularly now it's cleared for use on prostate cancer in the US.
So, it appears that 2016 will continue to develop healthcare tech on two fronts. Firstly, personal health tech that allows the user to track their (or their relative's and pet's) body functions with an eye on improving fitness or monitoring conditions. Secondly, the healthcare sector will be presented with potential technological improvements in surgery, emergency care and cleanliness.
Who's to say whether these offerings will become future mainstream health apparatus, but one thing is for certain - there's been an avalanche of health care tech, and it shows no sign of slowing down.