Google Life Science Group has developed a new technology – a health tracking wristband. The gadget will be useful in clinical trials and drug tests, giving minute-by-minute data on a patient’s condition, says a report from Bloomberg.
Another product from Google X
Andy Conrad, head of Google’s life sciences team, told Bloomberg, “Our intended use is for this to become a medical device that’s prescribed to patients or used for clinical trials.” The executive added that the gadget won’t be sold as a consumer device.
Google and its partners such as LG Electronics, Apple and others, have been offering health-monitoring features built into its Android Wear software platform. However, Conrad notes that most existing consumer devices aren’t precise enough for research. This is where Google X comes in handy
Google X, which developed the new wristband, was founded to deal with big projects with a potential for long-term payoffs, like driver-less cars, wind turbines and delivery drones. An experimental contact lens that can read blood sugar levels in diabetics has already been developed by the Life Sciences Division. Similarly, the new wristband collects information continuously.
The experimental device is enriched with many advanced capabilities, such as measuring pulse rate, heart rhythm, and skin temperature along with environmental information like light exposure and noise levels.
Conrad said Google will work alongside academic researchers and drug makers to test the wristband’s efficiency and going forward will seek regulatory clearance in the U.S. and Europe.
Is the technology needed?
For some time, doctors, researchers and drug makers have been demanding a way to continuously track patients’ data outside of a lab. Kara Dennis, managing director of mobile health at Medidata, a New York-based firm specializing in data analytics, told Bloomberg that it has been a great challenge to invent a user-friendly device that also captures rich, accurate data.
Dennis said that traditionally, “doctors do everything,” while patients were only required “to turn up at the trial site,” but now “we’re asking patients to take on meaningful responsibility in gathering information.” Also patients are asked to do basic tasks such as charging a device. This, according to Dennis, hurts data compliance, thus, raising the desirability of an accurate, reliable wrist sensor.
Conrad says optimistically, “I envision a day, in 20 or 30 years, where physicians give it to all patients,” hoping that going forward, gadgets like Google’s wristband will become regular standard among patients to detect early signs of disease.