I must admit that it’s kind of crazy to look back at the first CES I attended about 15 years ago. I was a techguy that had just started in healthcare. So, I really just wanted to go to CES regardless, but I did keep my eyes open for any sort of technology that could help healthcare. Outside of some new workstations and desktops, the closest I found was a cool ball with a gyroscope inside that might have had some health properties (I still love that ball and think it helps me avoid wrist issues with all the typing I do).
Needless to say, 15 years later CES has seen a digital health explosion. Sure, there are still plenty of TVs, phone cases, and other consumer tech. Plus, other areas have exploded as well like robotics, cars, 3D printing, and virtual reality to name a few, but healthcare has a strong place at CES.
This was particularly evident at CES Unveiled, a media only event where some of the hottest things are “unveiled” before the show. My non scientific take was that about half or more of what was shown at CES Unveiled was health and wellness related.
Here’s a quick sample of some of the technologies I saw at CES Unveiled that might be of interest to healthcare IT professionals.
This first technology is something that I’ve seen evolving for a number of years. First it was just the keyboard, but now it’s basically a full touchscreen computer that you can project on any flat surface (generally a desk or wall). The company Adok was demoing the hardware software combination last night. Excuse the French titles, but this video demonstrates the technology pretty well:
How cool would it be to have one of these in an exam room where the doctor and patient could collaboratively look at the information on a patient, the doctor could show patient education information, and the patient could see in real time what the doctor was documenting. We’ve seen this a lot with doctors putting it up on a big screen, but this makes it even more collaborative. Pretty cool technology for the cost of an expensive desktop.
Another impressive technology I saw for the 2nd year in a row was from Neofect. I’d previously seen the smart gloves they created that used robotics to enable movement in a limb. It was pretty slick technology, but it seems now Neofect has moved into a number of rehabilitation exercise solutions including smart gloves that interact with online games to help people rehabilitate a nonfunctional arm or hand. Not to mention a Smart Board, a Smart Pegboard, and associated apps.
Even cooler than the smart glove technology was their new Smart Balance product that included a chest sensor and a board that interacted with games on a screen. I love the integration of physical and virtual along with gamification to make therapy more bearable. It’s still early on the effects of this and other studies, but it’s great to see companies working on the integration of these worlds. Check out the video below to see the Smart Balance in action.
I saw a number of air filters. What really stood out with these is that they are finally making air filters that don’t require you to change the filter. That’s great since we all know how good people are at changing out filters. This video from the Luft Cube demonstrating how it destroys mold in the air is pretty compelling:
They also have a video for decomposing formaldehyde and I could see this as being interesting for bad smells, pollens, bacteria, and virus, but it seems like some more studies would be useful. You can learn more about the Luft Cube on Indiegogo.
Another filterless filter I saw was from OneLife. Here’s a quick video demoing their filter:
No doubt there are a lot of filters out there and it’s nice that the OneLife filter doesn’t require you to change filters, is completely silent, and looks nice, but that wasn’t what intrigued me by it.
What intrigued me most was the idea that it’s a connected filter that could report back on the quality of air in your house. I realize that this data is a double edged sword, but it’s not hard to see life insurance companies charging you less for insurance if you’re home can report that the air quality is better than other places. As OneLife told me, they already know what the air quality is like outside thanks to satellite measurements that they actually use to improve their filter and make it more effective. However, we don’t know what the air quality is like in your homes. Could a smart air filter improve the quality of air in your home and that SDoH could be reported back to get you some insurance savings? Seemed like a pretty intriguing idea to me.
There were a whole suite of health monitoring devices. If you want a watch, band, monitor, scale, blood pressure cuff, ecg, etc, there are a more options than I could describe here. Four things that I hadn’t seen before in this regard were an interesting evolution of this class of products.
The first was the Mateo bathmat which monitors a number of health data points like weight, body mass, and more when you step out of the shower or bath. I like this approach since it’s nearly invisible to the end user. We all step on the bathmat when we get out of the shower, so it’s easy to get the measurements done quickly during the natural course of your day. I also love that they can identify different people using their footprint recognition technology. That way the same bathmat can be used for multiple people. Here’s a video of the Mateo bathmat:
The second was a new watch from Withings. While I’ve seen a lot of watches like these and the Withings watch does all that you’d expect, I was intrigued that Withings was using their SpO2 sensor for screening for sleep apnea. I asked my sleep apnea expert friend and he told me that pulse oximetry was a reasonable screener for sleep apnea. Another thing I loved about this watch was that it had a 30 day battery life. One of the annoying thing of most watches is the need to charge them too often. I think most people can remember to plug in their watch every 30 days.
Third, Xenoma was demoing what they called e-Skin. I’d just call them wired pajamas. This device was not too different than many of the other senior fall detection and activity sensors on the market, but it was interesting that they were literally selling them as pajamas. No need for the senior to worry about attaching the sensor. Although, you do have to make sure you remove the sensor before washing the clothes. Was quite easy to take on and off though.
Finally, how could I not mention the smart diaper from Smardii. I didn’t have enough time to really dive into the technology and know how the sensor works, all the details of what it monitored, and the quality of the monitoring. I mostly talked with them about the actual use. Their diaper agnostic (I can’t believe I just typed this) and can apply their technology to any diaper. You attached the sensor device and a strip to the diaper and then it monitors things like urine, stool, temperature, body position, sleep analysis, etc. I’ve always thought that stool could tell us a lot about our health. However, I have to admit that I didn’t think that diaper would be the way this would happen. I guess it makes sense, but there’s something that doesn’t sit well with me and this technology. Maybe some of our readers in the long term care and skilled nursing area could chime in on the value and practicality of this better than I.
Needless to say, there was quite the potpourri of technologies at the CES Unveiled event. We’ll be covering a number of other consumer health technologies over the next week as we attend Digital Health at CES in Las Vegas. I’m never quite sure what I’m going to find and that’s what makes it exciting. If you’ll be at the event, let me know. We always love to meetup with readers at the event.