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The Impact of the IoT and Wearables on Health

Connected devices, built-in sensors and collected data allow individuals to lead independent lives at a much lower risk.
By Barret Coakley
Nov 05, 2018

Many older people express an interest in staying in their homes for as long as possible as they grow older. As a result, the home health-care market has grown tremendously, with many companies trying to take advantage of this new demand. There are currently more than 300,000 applications in the health technologies market. Technological trends like the Internet of Things (IoT), videoconferencing and wearable devices are being introduced to make the option of staying home more feasible.

According to Gartner, the wearables market has an estimated annual growth of 16.7 percent and may reach $34 billion in 2020. In Brazil, the trend is confirmed, but still at a slow pace. A recent study by the Technos Group says the annual consumption of smart watches in Brazil is still four times lower than the world's average consumption. On the other hand, the acquisition of smartphones in that country is among the largest in the world, and the country represents 4.4 percent of the global market. This shows an adherence to mobile technologies, but for now restricted to smartphones.

The role of connected devices was evidenced by the launch of Apple's new smart watch. The latest version of the Apple Watch includes new health features, such as an accelerometer and a gyroscope which can detect sudden drops, and a heart rate sensor that can make an electrocardiogram using a new ECG application. Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, called the watch "an intelligent guardian" for health.

Using electrodes and an electric heart rate sensor, the Apple Watch Series 4 allows users to take an ECG reading directly from their wrist through the ECG application. The application may classify whether the heart is beating in a normal pattern or if there are signs of atrial fibrillation. All recordings are stored in the health application, in a file that can be shared with doctors.

A fall-detection feature uses an accelerometer and a gyroscope that measures up to 32G of force, along with some custom algorithms, to identify any sudden drops. By analyzing the pulse trajectory and the acceleration of the impact, the smart clock sends the user a warning after a fall, which can be dispensed with or used to initiate a call to emergency services, according to the company. If Apple Watch feels immobile for 60 seconds after the notification, it automatically calls the emergency service and sends a message with the user's location.

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