New, emerging health technologies take stage at Consumer Electronics Show

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Healthcare technology made a big splash at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. A host of products--from personal health monitors to full-body sensor suits--debuted at this year's show. Here's a roundup of a few that caught our eye:

  • The number of personal health monitors, such as Pittsburgh-based BodyMedia's wearable weight loss and activity monitoring system, continues to grow, according to Investor's Business Daily.
  • Personal electronic device-maker Oregon Scientific won a CES Innovations 2012 Design and Engineering Award in the health and fitness category for a newer entry into the space, a touch screen heart rate monitor. The Gaiam Touch has a directional touch screen that allows users to navigate between heart rate, calories burned and workout time. It costs about $100. The Fit device starts at $179.
  • Manufacturer Zensorium, a Singapore-based company, announced the Tinke vital sign sensor, which skips the bothersome finger clamp, reading vital signs with a thumb sensor. It also stores data to chart heart or breathing rates over time. When it's released later this year it will sell for about $100, according to CNN.com.
  • Tulsa, Okla.-based ZOMM's Lifestyle Connect device acts as a hub for Bluetooth-enabled medical monitoring devices and can alert family members, doctors and others emergency personnel. It won CES awards in the mobile accessories, personal electronics and health and wellness categories, according to Tulsa World.
  • In a keynote address, Scripps Health Chief Academic Officer Eric Topol showed off two devices that can monitor vital signs and said he sees a future in embedded body sensors that could, for example, detect a possible heart attack long before it happen, according to CNET.com.

Personal devices dominated at the show, as well--it is, after all, a consumer electronics show. But there were some announcements about medical and scientific devices suited for a clinical audience, too.

For example, mobile technology company Qualcomm announced it will sponsor an X Prize Foundation contest to create a mobile platform capable of most accurately diagnosing a group of 15 diseases across 30 patients in three days, according to the CNET article.

STMicroelectronics, a European semiconductor maker, unveiled a smart-suit prototype with motion sensors that may help people with injuries to recover faster. Sewn-in multisensor nodes capture motion--it's the same technology used to record the movements of actors to create animated characters in films, according to Bloomberg. The technology could also help improve mobility among patients with illnesses such as Parkinson's disease.

Although not specific to healthcare, a waterproof coating for smartphones and other mobile devices could have a place in the hospital setting, with potential for improving infection control and protecting devices from the sometimes-messy world of healthcare delivery. Calif.-based Liquipel has developed a "nano-coating" which makes electronic devices waterproof, according to BBC News. Two other companies have developed similar formulas.

FierceMobileHealthcare editor Sara Jackson also wrote about mobile health technology featured at CES this year, including ultrabooks, sensors and new ways of accessing data. 

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