On the way of the connected health

© Shutterstock
© Shutterstock
Nowadays, everything can be found and shared on the web. People share pictures, music and hobbies on social networks or they can find answers to any question with just a few clicks. The Internet has become an entire part of our life and gives us more possibilities. Encouraged by this growth in technology and the opportunities it presents, people became more conscious of their health, well-being and how to preserve their physical shape. The development and flourishing of new health-connected devices thus appears as the logical next step.

At the beginning…

At the end of 2000, a new concept was born in California: the Quantified Self. It means that people would be able to measure their vital signs by themselves. To make it real, manufacturers thought about using the internet. Today, a lot of connected devices help people with devices that you can actually carry on you. They are called wearable devices. So now people can measure their weight, heart rate, the quality of their sleep, physical activity and much more.

 

How does this technology work?

The engineers use captors to track consumer activity. Different technologies of captors are used to measure heart pulse or blood flow for example but the purpose is the same. Then, these vital signs are used to calculate many other parameters (loss of calories, activity, performance etc…). Engineers integrate captors in day to day wear to follow the consumer. Moreover, items are also connected to internet. This way, people can access their data from anywhere and even save them on their computer. They can also share their performance with mobile applications on their smartphone.

A Flourishing market

New technology appears in the high-tech store shelf. Connected watches, Wi-Fi weighing scales, electronic tensiometers or toothbrushes can be found and are now at the head of a growing market. This flourishing market will represent more than $30 billion in 2018. Measure tools first appeared during the 19th century but they were generalized with network and the smartphone boom. There are now more than 15 billion connected items through the world and 8 times as much are expected by 2020. We count for now more than 100 000 mobile applications for health and well-being (including 40 000 in the medical field) on the market. This market represents $26 billion and will concern half of the smartphone owners population worldwide in 2017.

Inescapable phenomenon player in the social network field

In the future, it will be hard to make do without relying on health connected technology. Apps and the technology breakthrough will become common tools to help physicians and other health professionals on a daily basis. This lifestyle attracts more and more people. It is a real revolution for the technology and the society. People think differently and this technology makes people aware of their health. It is the beginning of a new age designed by technological progress.

Ethical issues

 

Even if the technology advance is very fascinating, there remain some ethical issues. On one hand, more and more companies like iHealth, Withings, Fitbit develop a lot of connected health devices. But the medical field still needs strict regulations. For example, apps have to bring proof that they can really benefit their users. So certificates from specialized authorities are required to protect consumers. On the other hand, the border between the well-being and health is blurry. We need to find the right place for those devices and to define a regulatory charter. For example in France, up to now, no organization has the authority to give such an accreditation.

 

Big data Boom

 

Another big issue remains about this phenomenon, the storage of all those personal information. Indeed, using connected items leads to an explosion of personal data sharing. The American company Bloomberg reminds people about the risk to see an Orwellian systems appears. It means consumers could be punished by their employed (for example, they can pay more for their assurance) if their behavior is negative for health (tobacco, alcohol, no working out). The CNIL had already invited people to think about how we can stock the data and who can have access. But for now, they say anything about their solution to help people use health connected devices safely.

 

Sources:

  • http://www.rtl.fr
  • http://testeurs-outdoor.com
  • http://www.santeconnectee.fr
  • http://www.sciencesetavenir.fr