Medical monitors aren’t just for doctors’ offices. New wearable gadgets keep tabs on your heart, sleep patterns and stress levels — and some call for emergency help. Take a look:
Photo: Getty Images, illustration by Justin Metz; Health trackers: courtesy individual companies
1. Heart Health
Watches have moved far beyond timepieces. New devices — like the Apple Watch Series 4 (starting at $400) and iBeat Heart Watch ($250 plus a $17 monthly monitoring subscription) — check your heart rate and circulation and can send medical notifications. That’s helpful for people with a heart condition. Not looking to replace your watch? The AliveCor KardiaMobile ($100) is a separate EKG device, small enough to fit in your pocket.
Stick the Upright Go posture trainer ($80) on your upper back; it will emit a gentle buzz the next time you slouch. It’s kind of like Mom’s “Stand up straight” nags, but more discreet. Poor posture is an increasing concern as we work on computers and look at our cellphones. It even occurs as we’re watching TV. This little device weighs under a half-ounce, promises less “screen slouch” after you work through 15-minute training sessions each day for 15 days, and tracks your progress.
A tiny device that you attach to your undergarments and pajamas can measure your stress levels by monitoring breathing and heart rate. The Spire Health Tag sends data to your smartphone, which gives recommendations — breathing exercises, for example — to improve your sleep and reduce stress. The app also shows which daily activities might contribute to your stress. You get eight machine-washable tags ($300), enough to keep attached to undergarments for each day of the week, plus one for sleepwear.
Get data on how fats, carbohydrates and proteins break down in your body. While not exactly a wearable, Lumen is a good gadget to have handy — it measures your metabolism by analyzing your breath. You inhale, hold your breath for 10 seconds and breathe out. You then get personal nutrition recommendations on a smartphone app. The $250 device is designed for people who are healthy and want to feel energetic. It isn’t recommended for those living with diabetes, obesity, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or metabolic disorders.