Another crazy week of the gadget wonderland that is CES recently concluded. Our Apple Watch has clocked in over 60 miles of walking over the five days of the conference and our wallets are a little lighter from some unlucky runs at the craps tables, but our spirits are a little more excited by the increasing attention to digital health and wellness at the show!
Sensors in all shapes and sizes seemed to be a popular trend again this year. Whether worn around the wrist, stuck to your chest, or even buckled around your waist, there seemed to be an overwhelming number of companies developing “smart ____” to help you know every single detail about yourself. Here are some notable sensors and other health devices we saw on the show floor this past week.
Wearable bracelets and smartwatches were again pretty much a dime a dozen. Misfit (Ray), Fitbit (Blaze), Under Armour (Band), Withings (Go), and Mio (Slice) were just some of the companies that announced new wristbands that track the usual fitness metrics. While each company’s new product had a few unique features, and some were attractively designed, we were largely disappointed; none of them managed to impress us in terms of new, useful functionality.
Omron even decided to go old-school by announcing a device called Project Zero that uses electronic blood pressure measurement technology that’s over 40 years old, albeit in an impressively compact bracelet.
Surprisingly, we think that the most interesting activity tracker came as Casio‘s entry into the smartwatch market, the WSD-F10. This wearable, which is designed especially for the adventurous type, is water-resistant and ultra-rugged and contains atmospheric pressure sensors, a microphone, and a magnetometer in addition to the usual accelerometer and gyroscope to learn more about the environment you’re in.
Wearable sensors also continued to move from around the wrist to places elsewhere on the body. We’ve already mentioned MC10‘s BioStampRC wearable for research. Vivalnk unveiled their rechargeable Bluetooth Vital Scout health monitoring patch, and Blue Spark Technologies announced their TempTraq Connect remote monitoring platform for their TempTraq patch. Lumo was one of a few companies embedding sensors in clothing; their Run capris and shorts can provide insights about your running stride, cadence, pelvic rotation, and more. HexoSkin released a new version of its Smart biometric clothing that incorporates Bluetooth Smart and compatibility with a number of third-party fitness apps.
Could oxygen be the next big health metric? After getting a glimpse at upcoming sensors from Cercacor and Profusa, we may be inclined to think so. Cercacor’s sensor, the Ember, non-invasively measures hemoglobin levels in the blood, while Profusa’s nearly invisible implantable sensor uses a fluorescent chemical marker to measure oxygen levels in tissue. Both were our show favorites.
While therapeutic devices are less common due to stricter regulations, NeuroMetrix was at the show to demo an updated version of their Quell wearable pain relief device that adds new modes, has improved battery life, and allows the user to control therapy. And a company called ReliefBand announced their clinically-validated neuromodulation wearable that stimulates the median nerve in the wrist to provide relief from motion sickness and morning sickness.
Finally, if you thought he hadn’t already suffered enough pain after five tiring days in Vegas, be sure to check out video of editor Scott donning a specially-created suit that allowed him to experience the health difficulties of being a senior citizen.
We look forward to continuing our coverage of these companies all throughout the year!
Scott wishes to thank Dr. David Ahn for his assistance throughout the show!