Often when we think of the wearable tech category, we imagine consumer-focused general purpose devices like Fitbit’s range or the Apple Watch. Google has unveiled a new niche device that’s designed to do serious work in a specific setting, however, with a health-focused wristband that provides constant patient information for participants in medical studies and clinical field trials.
The device, as described by Bloomberg, is the product of Google X, the experimental group within the search giant that is responsible for some of its more noteworthy “moon shot” projects, including Google Glass, its driverless cars and Project Loon. The health wristband can monitor pulse, heart rhythm, skin temperature, light exposure and noise levels, providing valuable data not just about a patient, but about their surroundings, too.
Where this niche wearable differs from those aimed at the more broad consumer market is mostly in accuracy; the readings it takes are more scientifically rigorous than those achieved by the current crop of Android Wear-powered devices, and the dedicated medical wearable unveiled today also monitors and reports information continuously, for better delivery of real-time actionable info to researchers and medical professionals.
Testing for the medical band begins this summer, according to Google, and it’s going to pursue regulatory approval for its use in medical contexts in partnership with academic institutions and drug companies, per Bloomberg.
This isn’t Google’s first move in building medical hardware; Google X is also creating contact lenses that can monitor blood glucose level to help in managing conditions like diabetes. The competition is also eager to contribute to the medical research community – Apple has introduced ResearchKit, which allows studies to use iPhones and iPads to gather participant data from a wider potential user pool, for instance.