We are all enjoying an ever-increasing life expectancy but need to realize that the quality of our lives is at risk when we become more susceptible to chronic diseases. Today, this effectively implies that we will be sick during a larger and increasing part of our lives. It is imperative that we focus on creating building stones that will contribute to a longer and healthier life span instead.
Wearables have the grand promise and the largely untapped potential to become a cornerstone technology in the care and cure cycle as well as to enable true prevention.
The different phases of one’s life will require different technological tools. For chronic patients, tools are needed that improve the risk stratification, follow-up and management to monitor disease progression and prevent relapse. Wearable diagnostic solutions for cardiovascular disorder, sleep apnea, hypertension have the potential of improved patient outcomes while at the same time being more convenient and less costly.
New technologies also have the potential to assist in curing diseases, e.g. smart contact lenses for addressing presbyopia for everyone above the age of 45.
Given our hectic lifestyles, wearable sensors that assess our stress levels and can provide advance warning for burnout and depression can have a profound positive impact. Wearables that persuade us to adopt and maintain a healthy life style will act as virtual coaches and have the potential to be your lifelong companion to a healthier life. Even earlier in life, wearable solutions used during pregnancy will give unprecedented insight in the health of the baby and the mother.
Wearable technology is not the solution but a tool to achieve the solution and contribute to a healthier life. These efforts across the continuum of care will benefit the patient of today and may reduce the number of patients of tomorrow!
Christiaan Van Hoof obtained a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Leuven in collaboration with IMEC in 1992. Since joining IMEC, he has held successively positions as senior researcher, project leader, manager and director in diverse technical fields: sensors and imagers, MEMS, autonomous microsystems, implantable devices, flexible technology, wireless sensors, body-area networks, wearable health. Christiaan Van Hoof has authored/co-authored over 500 publications and has given more than 50 invited talks and plenaries/keynotes. Christiaan Van Hoof is responsible for the wearable health solutions activities at IMEC spanning teams across 3 IMEC locations: Eindhoven (the Netherlands), Leuven (Belgium) and Gent (Belgium). Christiaan Van Hoof is also professor at the University of Leuven since 2000 and has been full professor since 2010. Christiaan Van Hoof became IMEC Fellow in 2013. Chris likes to make things that really work – his R&D has resulted in 3 IMEC startups and he has delivered space-qualified flight hardware to 2 cornerstone European Space Agency missions (Herschel Space Observatory and Rosetta mission)