cages with white mouse in the biology laboratory

Here’s something you don’t see every day. The exploding wearable Health Tech market means that lots of companies are coming up with all sorts of new ideas for products and services. It stands to reason that some of these new concepts may not have been thoroughly tested yet, and so many of these companies need to come up with ways to make sure that their products perform the tasks that they intend. The usual approach is to get volunteers to sign up as test subjects. So it really should not be surprising that some companies are turning to the Internet to find people to test new products.

I stumbled across one such listing on the website. A company advertised for “Basic Testing of an Electronic Wearable Device (Hardware),” and was willing to pay $25 to $50 an hour. According to the job description, the company is planning on “professional medical testing,” but before they invest in that stage, they “would like to know if the device actually works.” (This does not sound like they are confident in getting a positive outcome.) The device apparently involves muscle stimulation by electricity, though test subjects “are responsible to take the necessary safety precautions.” Perhaps the most intriguing part of the job description is that “you could either test it on your own — or with a familiar person.” Wow; at least they don’t recommend that you try it on a stranger.

The job listing is now closed, though it apparently attracted 11 bids of interest, at an average rate of $34. This may be an easier way to raise beer money than selling your plasma to the blood bank, but I still think it sounds somewhat risky, since they think it’s a product that will require “professional medical testing” eventually. While this is a curious project on its own, it raises some serious questions about the point at which the FDA should become involved in testing these sorts of products. Should there be guidelines for human testing, or are legal requirements needed? And how do we make sure every little garage project company is aware of these requirements before they go and start getting Internet guinea pigs to start hooking themselves up to new and unproven wearable Health Tech devices? It won’t take too many disaster stories to become a public relations nightmare for the market in general, and this example indicates that there may be a lot of questionable activity already underway.