It has taken a while for wearable tech to move beyond early adopter gadget status to significance in medical research and healthcare. The clock appears to be speeding up. An announcement by Intel Corporation and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries of a collaboration to develop a combination wearable tech and machine learning platform to use with Huntington disease (HD) is the most recent sign of wearable tech’s coming of age.
Huntington disease is a fatal neurodegenerative condition accompanied by uncontrollable movements, cognitive degeneration, and often both behavioral and psychological issues. Typically a 15-25 period from diagnosis to death is marked by a gradual decline of motor control, cognition, and mental stability. Huntington disease affects 5 to 7 people per 100,000 in western countries, according to the World Health Organization.
Because of the multiplicity of factors to monitor with Huntington disease, Intel and Teva are working together to build a platform that can continuously monitor patient data. Patients will be asked to wear an as-yet-unspecified smart watch and carry a smartphone, both with associated apps. The data monitored by the watch will be transmitted from to the smartphone by Bluetooth and then to the cloud via the smartphone. Intel’s open-source Intel Trusted Analytics Platform, software specifically optimized for advanced analytics and machine learning, will be used with the patient data to help the pharmaceutical industry develop new treatments for Huntington’s patients. The collaboration will build on initial development by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for use in Parkinson’s disease research.
These are early days in the collaboration between Intel and Teva. Major developments specific to Huntington’s disease may be years in coming. Of course, the promise of continuous monitoring with machine learning applied to big data stored in the cloud may move up the timeline. The significance of major corporations putting wearable technology to use in projects to improve care and learn about disease and treatment strategies moves the significance of wearable Health Tech a giant step forward.