Google’s new wearable for clinical research may save your life one day

google wearable clinical trials 1200x 1
“Wearables” and “health” are two words that more or less go hand-in-hand nowadays, but typically not in a clinical context. You’re more likely to hear about fitness trackers that can improve your sleep or golf game rather than, say, help your doctor detect arrhythmia. However, some wearables are being used to track vitals for hospitals stays and clinical research, and that’s the intended use of Google’s experimental new wristband.

The device is a product of the company’s Google X labs, which often produces the most futuristic and intriguing projects at Google. It’s a wristband that measures pulse, rhythm, and skin temperature, in addition to surrounding conditions such as light exposure and noise levels. The idea is to constantly track the wearer’s vital signs to determine how the patient is doing. All the data collected with the band will theoretically be shared with doctors and researchers, so as to help them diagnose and prevent illnesses, as well as conduct clinical trials.

“Historically, doctors do everything — patients just need to turn up at the trial site,” Kara Dennis, managing director of mobile health at data analytics firm Medidata, told Bloomberg. “Now, we’re asking patients to take on a meaningful responsibility in gathering information.”

More a “medical device that’s prescribed to patients” than a product bound for consumer wrists, Google’s working with institutions and pharmaceutical companies to test the wearable, head of life sciences team at Google Andy Conrad told Bloomberg in a telephone interview. The company hopes to obtain regulatory approval in the U.S. and Europe, and may look for a manufacturing partner in the coming years.

Conrad believes the device, or one like it, has enormous implications for health. In the short term, it might help researchers record data more precisely, but its biggest potential lies in ubiquity. “I envision a day, in 20 or 30 years, where physicians give it to all patients” to catch early signs of disease, he told Bloomberg. “Prevention means all the time.”

The smartband isn’t Google’s first foray into the wellness world. Google partnered with Swiss healthcare firm Novartis to manufacture its glucose-detecting smart contact lens for diabetics, and last June, kicked off Baseline, a large-scale study aimed at identifying the genetic and molecular traits that make up a “perfect healthy human.”

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Deals

Walmart drops prices on Apple Watches and other fitness trackers

Smartwatches, fitness trackers, and wearable heart rate monitors from Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and Garmin are popular gifts. Wearables are smarter and more capable than in earlier years. We found the best wearables deals on Walmart.
Emerging Tech

CRISPR gene therapy regulates hunger, staves off severe obesity in mice

Researchers from UC San Francisco have demonstrated how CRISPR gene editing can be used to prevent severe obesity in mice, without making a single edit to the mouse's genome. Here's how.
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Business

Chinese court upholds Qualcomm's complaint that Apple infringed on two patents

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Outdoors

Conquer the cold season with the best heated clothing and outdoor apparel

If you're thinking about going outside this winter, heated apparel is a must. Luckily, we've rounded up some of the best heated clothing, whether you're looking for battery-powered gloves or heated insoles.
Deals

Check out the best Green Monday deals for those last-minute gifts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but that doesn't mean you've missed your chance of finding a great deal. We're talking about Green Monday, of course, and it falls on December 10.
Outdoors

Crush your next workout with the best Fitbit for every activity

Fitbits are amazingly helpful tools for setting fitness goals and tracking progress. However, different activities require different metrics. We've gathered a list of the best Fitbits for running, swimming, biking, and other activities.
Mobile

Google Fit app finally gets a widget, among other new features

Google Fit hasn't received any new features since its redesign. This week, the company is rolling some new tools; users will be able to add a widget to their Android home screen, adjust the intensity of their workouts, and more.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Mobile

New Apple Watch begins saving lives one week after getting EKG feature

The Apple Watch Series 4 was updated almost a week ago with a new feature that allows users to take electrocardiogram tests -- and already it seems like the new feature is saving lives.
Wearables

These are the best smartwatches for everything from fashion to fitness

Tempted to buy a smartwatch? If so, then the growing number of great models available means you've got plenty to choose from. But which one should you pick? Here is our list of the best smartwatches.
Wearables

How to use the ECG app, set up irregular rhythm notifications on the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch Series 4 is the best smartwatch iPhone owners can own, and it just got even better with the addition of the ECG app and ability to identify irregular heart rhythms. Here's how to set it all up.
Home Theater

Common AirPods problems, and how to fix them

Apple’s AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds we’ve seen, but they’re not perfect. If you’re having trouble, take a look at our guide to the most common problems and what you can do to fix them.