5 amazing wearable health devices that will change lives

Connected wearables for health are a big deal, NPD expects 91 million will sell this year. It’s not just about unit sales: smart wearables may save 1.3 million lives by 2020, claims Soreon Research. This connected health gold rush meant hundreds of solutions were shown at giant consumer electronics trade show, CES, many of which won’t ever see the light of day – we want to show you five shipping (or soon to ship) solutions that show how these things are already changing lives.

Empatica Embrace

Empatica Embrace has been specifically developed for epilepsy sufferers, Empatica Embrace gathers lots of data and can identify when unusual events take place, such as a convulsive seizure. It works with a mobile device and a pair of apps, Empatica Mate, which watches physical stress, and Empatica Alert, which lets specified care givers know if and when an Embrace users is having a seizure. This solution ships in summer.

Leaf Patient Monitoring

Chino Valley Medical Center has made the Leaf Patient Monitoring System mandatory on hospital wards. This lightweight wearable sensor monitors patient movement in bed and uses this information to calculate when they need to be turned to prevent them developing bedsores (pressure ulcers). Clinicians can monitor these patterns and the system will alert nurses when patient’s need to be turned. A study showed solutions like this cut development of new pressure ulcers by 85.4 percent. (Bam Labs makes a smart bed system for consumers that measures heart and respiration rate, sleep patterns and other information.)


This wearable adhesive patch provides clinical-grade monitoring for use in the home, hospital, ambulance or care home. Developed by healthcare specialists Vital Connect, the device sits on the patient’s chest to capture heart and respiratory rate, skin temperature, body posture, stress, steps, sleep quality and more. Powerful data processing tools deliver valuable insights. In use this means the system should be able to alert doctors to respond to remote events, for example if a HealthPatch wearing patient shows early warning signs of heart attack.


EMOTIV INSIGHT (illustrated) is developing an exciting range of connected EEG headphones that track brain activity. These headsets are already being used to enable physically impaired patients to communicate using mind control on their computer, or enabling wheelchair users to control their transportation using the headset and their mind. There’s lots of activity in this: SpeechTrans is also developing new PC interfaces based on brain waves, while the Muse brain sensing headband promises reduced stress and improvement in emotional health using an accompanying app.

Glucose monitoring

Diabetes is one of the biggest challenges for healthcare. Successful management of the illness requires frequent measurement of glucose. The Abbott Freestyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System samples a user’s glucose every five minutes. It’s a small wearable sensor worn on the upper arm and samples the glucose through a small (5mm) filament that protrudes into the skin. These patches can be worn for up to two weeks and will provide current glucose readings (including an eight-hour history) whenever a user waves the control device over the sensor.


Connected wearables for health are booming. To find out more about our work in health, click across to Orange Healthcare.

Jon Evans

Jon Evans is a highly experienced technology journalist and editor. He has been writing for a living since 1994. These days you might read his daily regular Computerworld AppleHolic and opinion columns. Jon is also technology editor for men's interest magazine, Calibre Quarterly, and news editor for MacFormat magazine, which is the biggest UK Mac title. He's really interested in the impact of technology on the creative spark at the heart of the human experience. In 2010 he won an American Society of Business Publication Editors (Azbee) Award for his work at Computerworld.