Thursday 28 May 2015, 19:55 | By Adam Hallows
In the News May 2015 – Understanding Our Health With Personal Technologies
In the week before the Long Term Care Revolution roadshow hits Edinburgh, we look at different ways in which personal technologies are already transforming how we understand our health.
RAPID ADOPTION OF TABLETS SHOWS HOW NEW TECH AFFECTS ALL AGES
Ofcom’s recent report on the use of tablets shows just how rapid their take-up has been; from 3 year olds to the over 55’s. It perfectly illustrates how innovation can bring about significant change quickly and dramatically.
The Guardian’s analysis of the report reveals that since the iPad’s launch in 2010, “one in three children aged between 5 and 15 years old… have their own device, up from 19% just two years ago, while overall 71% of this age group at least have access to a tablet at home.”
Along with this increasing access to the hardware however, comes the question of their use.
Ofcom’s report focuses on web browsing, media consumption and staying in contact with friends, but with the increasing use in medicine to track, report and inform on our health, devices like the tablet could become essential partners in our life, from the day we’re born.
And with the increasing research around wearables (see article below), and suspicion around microchips to track our health in the future, then we may be letting our clothes speak directly to our devices (and our doctors).
One early stage demonstration of turning to our tablets for help, is RITA. A tablet-based, humanised avatar that would track the movements, emotions and needs of the elderly, offering advice and contact with emergency services, to allow longer independent living at home.
An outcome of a Long Term Care Revolution sandbox event, it’s just one way the programme is encouraging and supporting those with game-changing ideas, to develop those ideas to shape our health futures.
WILL OUR CLOTHES TELL US HOW WE’RE DOING?
A recent post at Mhealthnews.com covered a development by a Canadian company called the Hexoskin, a smart shirt being used in a mock Mars mission by Canadian astronauts.
The shirt is reported to ‘monitor heart and respiratory rates of the astronauts as they train in a harsh, high-altitude volcanic climate, and is being tested to track the health of astronauts as well as seniors, since many aspects of aging – bone loss, muscle weakness and blood-flow changes – are also seen in space.’
Although body sensors are not a new invention, a recent article in Sports Illustrated about the U.S. women’s track cycling pursuit team, using technology available on the high street (along with some expert guidance of course) to win Olympic medals was of interest. It suggests that the gap between space technology, and that which the general public can easily access to analyse and understand their own bodies, is getting smaller.
The cost of researching, developing and rolling-out such technologies isn’t available to the general public however, which is why CSL supports those who strive to find and fund innovation.
COMPUTER GAMES GIVING THOSE WITH AUTISM ‘A VOICE’
A recent BBC Radio 4 article around the impact of computer game Minecraft on its users, had a interesting twist.
One parent whose child has autism reported that rather than the negative side effects experienced by some other parents, who found their children became anti-social, and even addicted, she actually found that by creating a world where her son felt in control, actually meant he could build relationships with others and even go on to express himself in the real world.
This discovery was then echoed in a Guardian article where parent Keith Stuart focused on the immediate difference the autonomy of the game gave his son: “watching Zac play, it was like a light switching on. He just got it. Within [its] clearly defined rules and systems, Minecraft provided a creative structure that freed him.”
Staying at home playing computer games for long periods of time will not make us healthier, but promoting the unexpected benefits of technologies for those who aren’t as well served otherwise, could.