Wearable devices future of health care?

For the past few years, wearable devices have become a part of the latest tech trend. It has come a long way from fitness bands to smart watches to Google Glass. Discussions related to recent technological developments is incomplete without wearable devices. Now, real-time health monitoring has become possible thanks to wearable devices.


A recent report by researchers at IBM found that a person’s grip has the potential to reveal relevant data about his/her health. The researchers have introduced the prototype of a small fingernail sensor that uses artificial intelligence to monitor it. The sensor is tiny and can be worn on the nail. So, a person can carry out day-to-day work without affecting any tasks. The device monitors everyday activities on how the fingernail moves or bends. It gives indication about medication effectiveness and cardiovascular health.


Unlike skin-based sensors that can cause problems like infection in senior patients having fragile skin, fingernail sensor, on the other hand, uses fingernail bends that are far tougher. It senses factors such as the tactile sensing of pressure, temperature and surface textures. The device detects the motion of the finger by using a dynamometer that is placed inside. It also uses AI to deliver data to an app. The data is further analysed by machine learning algorithms to show changes over time like how brain and body work, revealing insights into chronic conditions such as schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease.

“Our system consists of strain gauges attached to the fingernail and a small computer that samples strain values, collects accelerometer data and communicates with a smart watch,” said Katsuyuki Sakuma, from IBM’s Thomas J Watson Research Center in New York, in an interview. The researchers were able to use the sensor to effectively monitor Parkinson’s disease, including tremors.


It is not yet known when the sensors will be available in the market. This research gives us a glimpse of how the future of the health care industry may look like. This technological breakthrough also serves as an inspiration to develop a new sensor that may even help quadriplegics communicate in the long run.


NT Bureau