Many analysts have forecast that the future of wearable Health Tech devices will be in health and medical applications. That’s where the money is. But while we all focus on heartbeats and blood pressure and oxygen levels and other sensors strapped or stuck to our skin, we may be looking in the wrong place entirely. A recent interview on the mHealth News website recounts a conversation with Dr. Steven Steinhubl, a cardiologist who was named the first director of the Digital Medicine Program at Scripps Translational Science Institute. When asked about the most interesting innovation he’d seen, he said that a digital “nose” could be the next breakthrough for healthcare.
“Every time we breathe, the air in our lungs mixes with the constituents of our blood. The ability to identify and measure part-per-billion level concentrations of various volatile organic compound disease biomarkers entering our exhaled breath from our blood offers a remarkable opportunity to completely change the way we diagnose a multitude of diseases such as cancers, infections and more.” He pointed out that dogs have highly-developed sense of smell, and have already been shown to be able to identify faint biomarkers associated with certain diseases. A digital breath analyzer could provide data that could be useful in detecting, diagnosing, treating, and tracking diseases and chronic health conditions.
I’m not aware of any wearable devices that tackle this application yet (so please drop me a line if you know of one), but it would seem to be a natural. Perhaps a small nose clip could be unobtrusive enough and yet detect trace amounts of important marker compounds could be a true game-changer for healthcare.