There’s a new wave of medical-grade technology that’s accessible to regular punters. These gadgets were all on show at the recent CES tech show in Las Vegas, and the chances are, if you’ve got an ailment, they’ve got a solution.
A robot nurse that lives in the home
It’s important to keep track of our vital stats, but at the moment that involves a trip to the doctor, or at the very least, taking out some specialised equipment like a blood glucose monitor or heart rate monitor. What if you could consult a robot instead?
It’s not as far-fetched as it might sound. Samsung recently demonstrated a robot called the Bot Care that can read your blood pressure and heart rate when you place your finger below the screen. It can also monitor your sleep cycles, call 999 and provide music therapy to help relieve stress.
Other skills include keeping tabs on when you take your medication, the ability to offer exercise advice and to give daily health briefings, which should cover most people’s day-to-day health needs.
If you don’t like the idea of a strange little robot buzzing about the house, how about a virtual caregiver instead? Addison has many of the same features – including making sure you take your medication and adhere to your care plan – but exists solely on a screen. Because you see a person (or ‘avatar’ as it’s known) on screen, she can appear on your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Both are just concepts for now, but expect to see something similar launch within the next couple of years.
Smart cameras for home monitoring and emergency support
Caring for an elderly relative can be a stressful experience, but these smart home cameras are here to help.
They work like home security cameras, connecting to your wi-fi network and beaming a live video feed straight to your smartphone. Some have an emergency button on the camera itself, so if you find yourself in trouble, you can alert your caregiver without having to pick up the phone.
They can also send alerts if they suspect something is wrong – i.e. your relative strays from their normal routine for some reason. The Hive View is out now, and costs £179, while the Wellcam (above) is out in the US and should land in Blighty soon.
If you think installing a camera is too close to spying, you're not alone. That’s why a smart display might be a better option – these tablet-like devices specialise in making video calls. The advantage is you can pack them away in a drawer so they’re not too intrusive.
The Domalys smart display features a big red button along the top of the 7-inch touchscreen. Press it, and it summons the emergency services. It also makes video chats and calls, with a simplified interface that’s easy to understand. Look out for it later this year.
Test your eyesight at home
Instead of nipping to the opticians to test your eyesight, what if you could do so yourself at home? Soon you’ll be able to, thanks to a home gadget called the EyeQue VisionCheck that partners with an app to test your vision. It’ll even give you a prescription that you can take straight to the opticians, or use to buy prescription glasses online.
Here’s how it works. You attach the device to your phone as shown in the picture, then hold it up to your eye like a mini-telescope.
Using an app, it calculates your nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, then gives you a personal prescription that you can use with certain retailers. Keep an eye out for it arriving around March of this year.
Watches to monitor and improve your heart health
Wearables have become much more advanced in recent years. While they started as a bit of a novelty, some are now so advanced they work as well as professional medical equipment.
Keeping track of your blood pressure is vital if you’re at risk of having a heart attack. This Heartguide watch from Omron features tiny pumps and air bladders, just like a professional-grade blood pressure monitor. It uploads your data to an app, where it can be shared with your doctor. The hope is that it will help detect hypertension earlier and prevent heart attacks. It’s on sale now in the US and should come to the UK this year.
The watch below might look like an analogue timeteller, but it could save your life. The Withings Move takes electrocardiograms to check for irregular heart rates, which could help diagnose any problems early on before they become urgent. It should land in the spring.
Of course not all wearables are watches. This T-shirt from Chronograph continuously measures six key physiological stats to help predict – and hopefully avoid – a heart attack. Those with congestive heart failure should look out for it later this year.