Wearable Tech – The New First Responder to Medical Emergencies

The National Institute of Health is investing in adding new features to wearables like Apple Watch or FitBit that will predict when the body might fail. The Center of Excellence for Mobile Sensor Data-to-Knowledge (MD2K) was announced this Thursday and will bring in 22 researchers from 11 different universities to begin brainstorming.

Fitbit-like devices — with the same form factor — can be used for many things other than fitness tracking.” – Deepak Ganesan, associate professor at UMass and a member of the MD2K.

The two health concerns MD2K already wants to address is smoking and heart failure. About 50 percent of Americans over 65 are affected by heart failure each year. The data gathered by fitbit-like trackers can predict a relapse coming and help prevent it. For instance,it is already possible to be notified of lung fluid collection (one of the signs of an approaching relapse) by using a chest band worn underneath your clothing. The group is prepared for rapid developments in wearable technology’s integration with the body.

Today it’s a chest band, maybe tomorrow it’s a shirt that has sensors.” – Ganesan.

Stress is another measurement that the trackers can collect and it is a major contributor to many health problems. A group at MIT Media Lab recently demonstrated the ability of Google Glass to detect stress levels by measuring breathing and heart rate.

MD2K is part of  larger NIH initiative called Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K). A total of $32 million was distributed by the institute to groups studying data use in medical research, mobile devices, social media and more. By 2020, the NIH expects to spend over $625 million.

Data creation in today’s research is exponentially more rapid than anything we anticipated even a decade ago. The potential of these data, when used effectively, is quite astounding.” –  Francis Collins, director of the NIH.

Read more here – “NIH Spends $10.8 Million to Turn ActivityTrackers Into Medical Alarms,” (Nidhi Subbaraman,BetaBoston).

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Anna is a current student at The George Washington University in Washington, DC with a concentration in Marketing and Communication. She specializes in social media outreach and has experience working in government contracting.

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