Biosensors pose healthy app innovation but challenges must be hurdled first

The evolution of smartphone apps incorporating biosensors is gaining speed, and while there seems to be no limit to potential applications for mHealth, there are still a few big challenges ahead--notably determining efficient and effective power consumption strategies and ensuring that biosensor-based apps provide a valuable service to the user.

Sensors are already in play and being considered for needs like detecting allergens such as peanuts and infectious diseases such as HIV, according to a Gigaom article.

"In the coming years, more and more sensors will be added, whether to phones or watches, but I think the first issue that has to be addressed is power consumption. The more sensors you add on, the more battery draw," Alex Hsieh said in the article. Hsieh developed a fitness tracker for Atlas Wearables and now works for Apple.

Biosensors and wearable mHealth innovation is rapidly advancing with providers already embracing the technology's potential to provide improved care while helping to save costs and increase the number of vendors moving into the mHealth wearables segment. Nearly 100 million wearable monitoring devices are predicted ship over the next five years spurred by consumer interest, according to a new ABI Research report.

Montefiore Medical Center is one facility considering deploying next generation of biosensors that can monitor a patient's heart rate, ECG, respiration, core body temp, position and gait.

As FierceMobileHealthcare reported earlier this year, the medical center is very eager to explore the technology. "Wearable technology is at its infancy," said Mony Weschler, chief strategist at Montefiore. "The possibilities are limited only by imagination."

The University of Massachusetts Medical School is another taking advantage of biosensors. The school has combined intelligence, smartphone programming, biosensors and Wi-Fi to develop the iHeal, a wristband that detects physiological changes associated with drug cravings, reports PsychCentral.

Yet biosensor wearables and mHealth apps also have the potential to turn off users, Hsieh said in the Gigamon article. The key for developers and app players is to ensure the biosensor tech is helping solve a specific healthcare need.

"It could take some time to get to a point where it's useful data for the consumer," Hsieh said. "And as soon as you overload, people start to not care, and that's a line you should try not to cross."

To learn more:
- read the Gigaom article

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