Wearing your Heart on your Sleeve – New Trends in Consumer Tech

Health awareness is on the rise and consumer tech companies are jumping into the game. Consumer electronic giants such as Samsung and Apple have been incorporating native apps into their products, ranging from simple trackers to more advanced and innovative technology. Samsung’s Walking Mate on S-Health, for example, is just one of the many simple apps designed to track the number of steps a person walked each day – provided the user had the phone in its pocket.

But the market is moving beyond these toward more advanced apps. Wello, a smartphone case for smartphones, is designed to constantly monitor a user’s vitals, including their blood oxygen levels, heart beat and pressure, lung performance, all while producing a functioning electrocardiogram.

Other companies are targeting more of the emotional aspects of health, aiming after ways to detect mood shifts and emotion, including stress. The idea is to capture the changes as they are happening and counteract them with technology that can prevent people from stumbling too deep into depression or anger. Other ideas include the reading of pheromone levels and tracking temperatures to monitor the patterns that people take depending on how they feel. Some of the technology is even being planned to be stitched directly into clothing.

Because of this, big companies such as Apple and Google are either expanding their hiring into new areas, or reallocating their spending to meet them. Recently, Apple began a hiring binge of physiologists to help with the development of apps. Google’s aims have included researched into newer technology into contact lenses that can improve the lives of people with diabetes. Nestle, the brand so commonly known for its confections and cosmetics has also shifted toward healthcare.

However, all of this also means potential problems. With identity theft prevalent and more weariness over government intrusion into privacy after the recent discoveries about the NSA, there’s growing concern that these newer technologies could leak personal health-related data which could be used in favor of companies with commercial interests at the cost of a patient’s health. Balancing the desire for better health with the need of privacy will make meeting the demands tough.

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