CES 2022: The body-monitoring tech trend comes with concern

The One Ring is on display at the Consumer Electronics Show, but it’s not just a piece of jewelry—it’s packed with sensors capable of detecting body temperature, respiration, and more.

At the annual Gadget Extravaganza in Las Vegas, startups delve into what’s happening inside wearers to reveal technology-enhanced accessories designed to look appealing from the outside.

“We want to democratize personal health,” said Amourie Kosman, founder of the French startup that made circular rings.

While that goal was shared by an array of exhibitors, some experts worried the tendency to constantly monitor steps, sit time, heart rate and bring more stress and risk of addiction.

According to Kosman, the circular ring provides the wearer with a daily “energy score” based on their activity intensity, heart rate, body temperature, blood oxygen levels and other data.

“It continues at night, we track sleep stages, how long it takes you to fall asleep, if you’re in alignment with your circadian rhythm, etc,” he said of the ring, which costs 300 euros. ($340) would be less. When it hit the market later this year.

“And in the morning it vibrates to wake you up at the right time.”

According to the founder, a mobile application synced with Ring has been designed to make personalized lifestyle recommendations to improve health based on the data collected.

high demand for wearables

The demand for body-tracking “wearables” is strong. Organizers of CES estimate that more than $14 billion (about Rs 103578.37 crore) will be spent this year across categories that include sports tech, health monitoring devices, fitness activity trackers, connected exercise equipment and smartwatches. This figure is more than double what was spent in this category in 2018.

Growth has been driven by smartwatches such as those made by powerhouses Apple and Samsung, as well as internet-connected sports gear – which grew rapidly during the pandemic – and personal tracking devices.

Companies are also moving to address the need for tools that provide data that can be trusted as part of the pandemic-driven trend of remote healthcare.

Swiss BioSpectacles taps into smartphone cameras to measure blood pressure when a finger is placed over the lens.

French Quantic is developing algorithms that calculate heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure from “selfies”.

Meanwhile, Japanese start-up Quantum Operation has developed a prototype bracelet that continuously measures the level of glucose in the blood. Diabetics will be spared the needle jab for repeated blood sugar testing.

Body-minding wearables can provide valuable health data, but some fear the “quantified self” trend is blurring the line between wellbeing and stressful obsessions.

Dependent growing?

South Korean firm Olive Healthcare demonstrated a “Bello” infrared scanner that analyzes abdominal fat and suggests how to reduce it, along with a “Fito” device that works to increase muscle mass and increase it. estimating methods.

Society needs to determine whether such tools solve problems or “give rise to new dependencies,” argued the German political scientist Nils-Eich Zimmermann.

One danger is that the “digital self” posed by such technology does not match reality, argued Zimmerman, who blogs on the subject.

He also saw danger in “game” features, such as rewards and peer competition that put pressure on users who may not be healthy.

Withings’ US sales director Paul Buckley was confident that people could handle the health data provided by devices such as the Body Scan smart scale unveiled at CES by the French company.

“I don’t think it’s too much,” Buckley said as he showed the scale capable of doing electrocardiograms and analyzing body composition.

“You’re able to become more aware of what’s going on in your body.”

Is the OnePlus 9R Old Wine in a New Bottle – or Something Else? We discussed this on the Orbital, Gadgets 360 podcast. Later (from 23:00), we talk about the new OnePlus Watch. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.

Get the latest from the Consumer Electronics Show on Gadgets 360 on our CES 2022 hub.