Innovation

The Internet of Things ... for the human body?

Illustration photo.

Illustration photo.  (REUTERS/Kacper Pempel)

You wake up in the morning and glance at your phone. In an app, you see your blood-sugar level, your exact heart rate, your metabolic rate, and your calorie count. But how is this possible?

In the future, the Internet of Things (or IoT) will invade the human body.

And, in some ways, it already has.

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Gadgets from companies like FitBit and Misfit can already track your heart-rate in real-time. You can step on a wirelessly-connected scale and send the results to an app. For fitness nuts, these gadgets help you track progress during a workout or lose a few pounds.

Here’s a good example from the medical field today. An upcoming gadget this spring called the HeartVue Wireless Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor looks like a normal watch, but with a button press, you can determine your own blood pressure. It will help people who struggle with high blood pressure so they can watch their food intake and start a fitness regime.

The Levl Pro is designed to help you lose weight. When you breathe into a small tube, you can determine your metabolic rate. It works by looking for traces of acetone, the molecule linked to fat burning. At CES this past January, I used one and found, after walking 20,000 steps that day, that I was a fat burning machine. That week, I ended up losing three pounds.

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Yet, the day is coming when wearables will go much further.

Someday soon, we’ll know when a kidney is failing, send reports about a rash that’s healing directly to a doctor, and track a prostate condition without any invasive surgery.

Rob Martens, Futurist and Vice President of Strategy and Partnerships at Schlage, tells Fox News that medical wearables could have a radical impact on how we track our own health and fitness. He says there is already a growing emphasis on tracking calorie intake. One app, called Strategy and Partnerships at SchlageLose It!, lets you snap a picture of your food to see how many calories you’re about to eat. Pacemakers already communicate data from the human body in real-time to a doctor, which Karp says can reduce infections.

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What comes next? Martens says nanobots inside the human body will eventually monitor health conditions, perform exploratory surgeries, and report on blood-sugar levels. Once the bots collect this data inside the body, Artificial Intelligence could be used to provide a diagnosis in real-time.

“Artificial Intelligence in part leverages the IoT to consider and absorb vast amounts of previously unanalyzed data to share with doctors and researchers,” says Martens. “It does this by helping to highlight anomalies or patterns within large data sets quickly for researchers to focus on, therefore moving faster to potentially fruitful areas than ever before.”

Services like Doctors On Demand also reveal how diagnosis might work in the future, Let’s say you have a wearable that can detect your blood pressure, metabolic rate, and kidney health. With a quick swipe, you can meet with a doctor online because you are able to send the data.

Where will that leave medical professionals? As the AI and tracking improve, and IoT goes inside the body, a new role of counselor and adviser will become more common. We’ll visit the doctor in person only when there’s a need to start moving beyond a data-driven diagnosis.