How Medical Wearables Enhance Quality of Life

How Medical Wearables Enhance Quality of Life

Today you might wear a fitness tracker to monitor your activity level, calories burned, and heart rate. And tomorrow? Perhaps you’ll monitor vital signs from a piece of jewelry, clothing, or a smart patch.

"Wearable technology is starting to integrate itself into our lives on a more subtle level," notes Hannah White in a blog post, "Constantly Connected: A Look at Wearable Trends." "Technological advancements are also allowing sensors to become integrated in more flexible formats and materials, like clothing."

Ingenuity in the engineering and healthcare communities are pushing continued advancements that are making more preventive as well as personalized care possible. New technologies are also providing new ways to address or manage various medical conditions. Let’s take a look at a couple of these solutions. 

Evergaze Helps People See More Clearly

Richardson, Texas-based Evergaze has developed an electro-optical medical device that helps people with low vision see the world more clearly. The company's seeBOOST wearable device features prescription glasses with a permanently attached monocular electronic vision augmentation system. This system provides instant auto-focusing, automatic contrast and brightness enhancement, user-adjustable magnification, and selectable color modes. The biggest user base for the seeBOOST device consists of people with age-related macular degeneration, but the device is also useful for those with diabetic retinopathy.

"With seeBOOST there's a tangible, immediate benefit to people," said Patrick Antaki, president and one of the founders of Evergaze. "The technology is complex yet the product is extremely easy to use. The end result is a human benefit – imagine a grandmother being able to see and recognize her grandchildren's faces. That’s what this technology does for people."

The combination of electronics and optics made the seeBOOST possible. From light weight to large field-of-view requirements to efficient heat dissipation, the Evergaze team addressed some tough design challenges to create the device. To meet these challenges, the team tapped into a variety of ICs from Maxim, including a lens driver, ambient light sensor, switching regulators, and op amps. 

Figure 1. The seeBOOST device boosts sight for the visually impaired.

UnaliWear Extends Independence with Dignity

Jean Anne Booth, CEO and founder of UnaliWear, was inspired to create the Kanega watch because she wanted to give her mother an emergency-alert solution that is both functional and attractive. The Kanega watch is a voice-controlled, self-contained device that provides emergency assistance, medication reminders, fall detection, directions, and "guide me home" assistance. The wearable doesn’t require a smartphone connection, features a battery system in its band, and is integrated with cellular, Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth connectivity. "I started UnaliWear because my mom isn't willing to wear today’s emergency alert products," said Booth. “She thinks they’re ugly, they are limited outside the home, and she finds those big help buttons socially stigmatizing."

To create its multi-function watch, UnaliWear required ultra-small, highly accurate fuel gauges for assessing battery state-of-charge. "…we needed high accuracy over a wide range of operating conditions and power modes—a 5% error in state-of-charge is unacceptable," notes Jon Guy, VP of engineering at the company. The engineering team found its answer in Maxim’s ModelGauge fuel gauges, along with various other ICs chosen for their performance, low quiescent current, and small sizes. 

Figure 2. The Kanega watch was designed to meet stringent power management requirements.

Evergaze and UnaliWear are just two examples of some of the unique healthcare wearables that have emerged on the market to address long-standing challenges in a new way. Have you designed an innovative healthcare solution using Maxim ICs?