In many ways, humans are electrical beings. From nerve impulses to changes in the conductivity of our skin and other body parts, electrical charges play a major role in many of our essential functions. Empatica is a company in Cambridge, MA, that is trying to harness this fact to help deal with a number of issues for people.
Their Embrace Watch is a device designed to track your activity and temperature, much like many other fitness bands, but it also contains “electrodermal activity” (EDA) sensors that measure galvanic skin response. The conductivity of your skin is affected by many factors, including various functions of the brain. In fact, your EDA readings on your left side and right side can be markedly different, depending which part of your brain is active at that moment. EDA can be used to measure stress levels, fear, and excitement. One of the missions for the Embrace is to help the wearer monitor and control their stress levels. An app helps the user to identify which events result in higher or lower stress responses, so you can use the information to help train yourself to deal with stressors more effectively. Oh, and the Embrace is a sleep monitor and tells time, too.
But the big story about Embrace is that the technology can also detect seizures in patients with epilepsy. The system can send alerts to caregivers or family members if a seizure is identified. This feature is not yet approved by the FDA, but a similar device from Empatica has CE approval in Europe, and the company intends to pursue CE and FDA approval for the Embrace as well.
If you’re going to get a fitness band, why not get one that can also track some useful health metrics as well? This is a bellwether product that shows the movement toward more features combined within a single device, which is likely to increase adoption of wearable technology.