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July 14, 2014

5 Internet of Things devices for health you’ve never heard of

CBR looks at five smart devices in healthcare starting with the most recently announced FingerReader.

By Amy-Jo Crowley

1. FingerReader


Scientists at MIT are developing a ring-shaped device they claim can read aloud text to people with visual disabilities in real-time.

The FingerReader, worn as a ring on the index finger, has a small camera mounted on top and speech software that converts text from books, newspapers and menues into audio.

The audio device, which took three years to design, connects to a laptop or mobile phone and includes a text extraction algorithm, allowing users to read single lines or whole blocks of text when selected.

Users can also control the speed of the reading and read lines over again for deeper understanding, while vibration motors are also included to alert them if they stray from text.

Almost 3% of the population is visually impaired, so that is the market size for the FingerReader," MIT said.

"Down the road, we think it has potential to assist not only visually impaired persons but also the elderly, children, language learners and tourists."

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2. Pill bottle


AdhereTech, a New York City-based startup, released a wireless pill bottle at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show it claims alerts patients when they have to take their medication and keeps track of their usage and dosage.

The pill bottle uses lights, speakers and sensors to track how often the bottle is opened and closed, humidity and how much medication is removed in real-time. Using cellular technology, it then sends the information on to doctors, pharmacists who can monitor it.

If the medication isn’t taken on time, users receive a phone call or text message alert as a reminder.

AdhereTech said it created the technology to reduce costs associated with missed or haphazard dosages – figures from the New England Healthcare Institute estimates that some $290bn in costs is wasted each year on unnecessary hospital and doctor visits by people who failed to adhere with medical treatment.

3. Start Trek’s Tricorders


Like the medical tricorder from Star Trek, the Scanadu Scout can read a person’s heart rate, temperature and oxygen levels when it’s held against their forehead.

Developed by Scandadu’s CEO Walter De Brouwer, the portable electronic device uses a variety of sensors and a microphone to send information via Bluetooth to a smartphone app about your health.

The information, which can be shared with doctors, is said to be 99% accurate and also provides details on ECG waves and pulse wave transit time (PWTT) among other readings.

The medical device startup, which received $10.5mm in funding last year, says it will deliver beta units to early backers later this year.

4. Nymi


Canadian firm Bionym’s Nymi bracelet reads the unique pattern in people’s heartbeat to confirm who they are.

The bracelet has a built-in sensor to detect where they are and a HeartID that measures the cardiac rhythm tracked on an electrocardiogram, which differs from person to person.

It works by taking an electrocardiogram when the wearer touches it with the opposite hand, which then broadcasts a signal to a matching computer, device or car that confirms his or her identity and unlocks it.

Bionym hopes the hype around fingerprint scanning created when Apple unveiled its iPhone 5S will create excitement around the Nymi.

5. Infant Monitor


The Mimo baby monitor, developed by Rest Devices, is a sleep suit and baby monitor that tracks a baby wearer’s temperature, breathing rate, body position and activity level.

The waterproof plastic turtle above has a temperature sensor, accelerometer and Bluetooth low-energy chip that sends audio and data in real time to connected apps for iOS and Android devices. Once parents download the app, they can receive all the data in real-time.

Users can also view past logs to understand their baby’s sleeping patterns.

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