Fass & Curious : Human 'check engine' gadgets in the making

January 23, 2017


If there is a problem with the engine of your motor car, a check light appears on the dashboard, warning the driver that something is wrong.

Now, imagine a similar check light coming up on a human dashboard, telling you to seek medical attention immediately.

Sounds cool? Well, that is the future of technology.

Wearable gadgets gave a Stanford University professor an early warning that he was getting sick before he ever felt any symptoms of Lyme disease.

Geneticist Michael Snyder never had Lyme's characteristic bulls-eye rash. But a smartwatch and other sensors charted changes in Snyder's heart rate and oxygen levels during a family vacation. Eventually, a fever struck that led to his diagnosis.

Snyder's team at Stanford university is starting to find out, tracking the everyday lives of several dozen volunteers wearing devices that monitor more than mere activity.

He envisions one day having wearables that act as a sort of "check engine" light, indicating it's time to see the doctor.

"One way to look at this is, these are the equivalent of oral thermometers, but you're measuring yourself all the time," said Snyder.

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