Most medical interventions start with diagnostic measurements. When you go for a physical, to give blood, or just to speak with medical personnel about pretty much anything the first step is someone takes your temperature, reads your pulse, and measures your blood pressure. I recently had a fainting incident after donating blood and had machines rolled in and electrodes attached for an electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG) and an electroencephalogram (EEG). We’ve all had the first three done many times and if you live long enough you’ll have the latter two tests as well. Soon some or all of those quick checks and tests may be even quicker and easier with wearable health innovations.
Advances in low-power, battery-operated, high performance microcontrollers and integrated circuitry (IC) enable the increasing use of wearable health devices or clothing for measurement and monitoring of vital signs and other indicators of wellness. Maxim Integrated is in on the front line of enabling technology for wearable devices or clothing. Maxim’s MAXREFDES73# is reference design using a versatile ARM Cortex M3 microcontroller that can interface on a small circuit board with a variety of sensors and communicate via radio signals, Bluetooth, Near Field Communications (NFC), or USB ports to smart phones, tablets, or other computing devices. Using galvanic skin response (GSR), temperature, motion, and other sensors, Maxim’s reference design can be used with products that measure, monitor, and report on such factors as vital signs, glucose levels, hypertension, hypothermia/hyperthermia, gait, body composition, sleep quality, and salinity. Maxim’s controllers provide the platform for third parties to develop wearable products for anything they can measure.
As wearable health devices develop and proliferate, we may soon find ourselves putting on a shirt and a cap to measure and report to health providers from our homes or remote location anything they need to know that they can learn without an invasive procedure. It’s hard to imagine wearable X-Rays, CAT scans, or MRIs, but let’s not count that out too soon.