Google (News - Alert) X is an unfamiliar part of Google for many; more specifically, it's the research arm of Google, one that's responsible for a great many unusual and innovative applications. Google X has previously had a hand in the self-driving car project and a host of others, and now, it's taking a further step into wearables with the reveal of a new kind of health-tracking wristband system.
The device is capable of not only measuring but also tracking a variety of bodily responses, ranging from pulse and heart rhythm to skin temperature, as well as a variety of external stimuli that can have an impact on bodily responses like light exposure or even ambient noise levels. The device won't be geared toward the consumer market, according to life sciences team leader Andy Conrad, but instead, reports suggest this is likely to target the healthcare market.
Word is that the wristband may find a home as part of clinical trials or drug testing, allowing for up-to-the-minute tracking of a variety of points, which is exactly the kind of thing that such trials would need to determine the effects of certain drugs or medical procedures on patients. This is the kind of data that, according to data analytics firm Medadata's Kara Dennis, is extremely desirable but often hard to come by. Making the whole thing accessible from a wristband would be a golden opportunity for healthcare professionals, and that gives Google a likely market.
This isn't the first time that Google has tackled healthcare. The Android Wear platform, for example, comes with some health-monitoring features, and Google X was reportedly previously seen developing a line of contact lenses that tracked glucose in human tears. But this is something different; a particularly powerful system that's usable at the clinical level thanks to its level of detail. It could even one day be potentially used to help the healthy stay that way, tracking issues as it goes.
Of course, there are some risks to a device like this. Imagine what would happen if health insurance firms started demanding a device like this be worn on pain of higher premiums. Health insurers could potentially use a system like this to dictate how much sleep a user gets, how much exercise is performed, even what is eaten in order to get the lowest possible rates. That's a worst-case scenario, of course, and depends on health insurers behaving in an Orwellian fashion.
Those interested in seeing where else the wearable tech concept could be going, meanwhile, need only check out the upcoming Wearable Tech Expo at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. The event is set to run August 17 – 20 and will show off the very best in wearable tech, as well as offer networking opportunities and the chance to hear about the market from the best in insiders' perspectives thanks to a slate of keynote events.
While it might be early to call the new Google health-monitoring wristband a concerning development, it certainly has enough potential as a clinical tool to be valuable. It may well lead to a host of new developments that help make our lives better as a whole, and hopefully, that will ultimately prove to be the case.
Edited by Dominick Sorrentino
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