Five benefits of non-contact vital sign monitoring which make it one to watch in 2014
There have been many prediction pieces written on what technology or trend will make a name for itself in 2014. Many of these are the same technologies or ideas that have been on the predictions list for the last few years, including; big data, mobile and wearable technology which has been gaining a lot of attention since 2013 with the introduction of Google Glass.
However, it wasn't until the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), in January, that the possibilities of this technology were seen to be further reaching than just a pair of glasses.
From LG to Garmin and Sony, it seems that almost every developer is looking to get in on the hype of wearable technology. And why not? Research from Accenture shows that 33 per cent of consumers are looking to increase spending on wearable tech in the next 12 months. With those that serve a health and fitness benefit being more desirable, it appears that people want to be able to have more control over the monitoring of their own health.
However, with the hype over wearables many of the benefits of non-contact vital sign monitoring technology have been overlooked. These extend well beyond just healthcare. Here are five benefits of non-contact vital sign monitoring, which make it a hot area to watch this year.
1. Empowering the individual
The capabilities of the technology can be empowering for those with chronic illnesses, which need frequent or near constant monitoring. It means less visits to hospital for check-ups as conditions can be monitored at home; and with the support of machine-learning technology, changes can be detected which are specific to individuals rather than dictated by guidelines. This means faster and more accurate identification of deteriorations and fewer false alarms.
2. Monitoring unobtrusively
Some devices required to be worn, for example, chest straps, can be uncomfortable (especially for women), which leads to people avoiding monitoring themselves. There are also other issues around having to wear a device, ranging from avoiding the hassle of having to check it is working and recharging when needed, through to simply forgetting, as is often the case with the elderly. Having a device that is unobtrusive provides greater probability of the individual using the device and as some can be operated remotely, this removes the barrier of forgetfulness. The unobtrusive nature of non-contact technology also means it is great to use in situations where monitoring is needed for extended periods, for example monitoring sleeping babies. Issues around discomfort are avoided as the baby is not required to wear anything that may irritate or obstruct movement.
3. Supporting the health service
When it comes to monitoring the health of individuals using non-contact technology the positive effects reach further than just the individual. Various health services benefit from the increased availability of beds which results from more patients being monitored from home rather than in a hospital bed. With validated technology where readings are proven to be at least as reliable as more intrusive form of monitoring it means the emergency services are only called out to a real emergency, decreasing the number of costly false alarms and also meaning that when a patient does require help, they receive it.
4. Monitoring more than an individual
For those training in a gym, whether they are a professional athlete or an amateur looking to keep fit, being able to track your progress and goals electronically is a great advantage. For gyms wishing to be able to provide monitoring there are hygiene implications of sharing wearable devices and also devices may go missing. Introducing monitoring which can not only be used by more than one person but can monitor more than just heart rate is a great value add for gyms to be able to offer.
5. Making cars safer from within
Car manufacturers have been working hard over the past few years to make cars safer on the road; from assisted parking, to detecting hazards on the road, to working with the likes of Google and Android to include GPS tracking and calling emergency services in an accident. However, in a number of cases accidents occur because of an event happening to the driver inside the vehicle. So until driverless cars become a possibility, non-contact monitoring of the driver is the next best thing. Through, for example, a camera on the driver's phone, which is fitted to the dashboard, three vital signs can be monitored. Through monitoring a drivers breathing and heart rate anomalies can be detected which can be a sign of the driver feeling sleepy or suffering from a heart attack. If an issue is detected the driver can be alerted to pull over or combined with other technology the car could be stopped and the emergency services called.
As well as the points above major opportunities also exist in industries as diverse as security and retail. The possibilities of new applications are only limited by our imaginations.