Miniaturisation and wireless connectivity have seen the bulkiest of devices shrink down to once unfathomable sizes, allowing complex and life-changing technology to become portable.
While we all enjoy our smartphones, mp3 players and other entertainment and communications devices, the portability of medical devices can be truly life-changing and, in many cases, life-saving.
Until recently, people with debilitating conditions have been confined to hospital, due to the sheer size, weight, power requirement and complex nature of many medical devices.
With the rise of portable medical devices and the proliferation of smart home technology, these people are increasingly able to live with their conditions at home and look after their own health as they travel.
The sign of a modern assistive health device, beyond portability, is the inclusion of e-health technology. We’re now able to monitor things in real time, view trends and share them with our doctors, and treat a variety of conditions remotely and efficiently.
Here are some examples…
Blood Pressure Monitors
Blood Pressure Monitors such as the Nokia BPM+, Omron EVOLV and the QardioArm Wireless BPM are highly-portable and come without the tubes or wires common to tabletop versions.
They instead attach to your upper arm and use smart technology to record and monitor your blood pressure.
The Nokia BPM+ is able to sync with your smartphone via Bluetooth to help you keep track of your measurements, while providing feedback and advice.
QardioArm and EVOLV also detect instances of irregular heartbeats and warn you of such irregularities. Additionally, QardioArm allows you to monitor your blood pressure across multiple locations to help you understand how set, setting and activity can impact your heart’s health.
Portable EKG/ECG Monitors
Portable EKG/ECG monitors assess the activity of the heart and are commonly used during electrocardiogram tests. While old models would display data as graphical lines on paper, 21st century versions record and display data digitally, allowing you record and keep track of your movements quickly and easily. Most newer models even include LCD screens and sensors to let you view results in real time.
Devices such as AliveCor allow you to take your pulse via your fingers and monitor your heart rate anywhere, while an accompanying app lets you view an electrocardiogram on your smartphone.
The Omron HCG-801 allows you to track heart pain, palpitations, and shortness of breath, even when these conditions are fleeting. Even Apple is developing an advanced heart-monitoring feature for future versions of its smartwatch.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices brought home to people what looks like hospital-worthy breathing equipment. But for sleep apnoea sufferers these devices are a godsend. They use airflow to regulate breathing and stop airways from closing during sleep.
Originally the home devices were tabletop versions, that are noisy, require the use of a long tube, rely on a plug connection and are far from ideal for travelling with. But this is changing. For example, Airmony is a portable, washable, quiet version that’s scalable for adults and children. It’s also the first to be tubeless.
It’s also a smart device that uses e-health tech. By recording data as you sleep, users can monitor their sleeping patterns and share the findings with their doctor to help develop better treatment plans.
Air Quality Monitors
Carrying an inhaler is now not the only thing you can do to alleviate asthma symptoms or allergies. The compact Atmotube with USB connectivity uses sensors and a mobile app to alert you of presence of harmful gases and compounds and measures the air temperature and humidity in your vicinity.
Some people may simply want to keep track of the air quality in their area. The GermGuardian Smart 4-in-1 also detects prevalence of dust, pet hair and pollen, while the thumb-sized Wynd Wearable acts as a smart portable air purifier.
The Extech CO250, as the name suggests, is used solely for detecting carbon dioxide. On the other hand, the IQAir AirVisual Pro uses AI and laser technology to compare the air quality in your home with that outside, which may be used by those living in large, polluted cities.
Glucose Monitoring Systems
New smart, portable glucose monitoring systems such as the Contour Next One and True Metrix Air let you measure the glucose levels in your blood on the go.
The smart element is that these little devices can connect to your smartphone in order to monitor your blood sugar levels over time and share them with a doctor.
The benefit of being able to test your glucose levels remotely is that you can do so before and after exercise, meals out, or in any situation that you might need to do so remotely without the usual blood test.
Pains caused by arthritis, sciatica or Carpal Tunnel can now be alleviated on the go.
The TechCare Massager Touch uses a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator and a Powered Muscle Stimulator to administer electric pulses to your skin to stimulate nerve fibers and block pain signals to your brain. It has 24 massage modes and can even simulate deep tissue and acupuncture massages.
The focus on the portability of medical devices is helping to bring healthcare into the 21st century, allowing people to look after their health at home and on the go, and could provide doctors with much clearer information about particular medical issues.
If you have a condition that requires regular treatment and attention, it’s worth doing some research on the availability of portable medical devices – they really can be life-changing!
Jaume Palau is the creator of Airmony, a next generation sleep apnoea device. Portable, light and tubeless, Airmony pushes a continuous flow of air to help sleep apnoea patients breathe during sleep. It includes sensors for e-health tech, allowing patients and their doctors to monitor sleep patterns.