Wearable devices big topic at SXSW, could help save lives

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AUSTIN (KXAN) —  Wearable devices are a big topic this year at South By Southwest. They can track our every move, collecting and keeping data that works to better our lives. Just this week, Apple showed off their new devices.

“How do you know how far you walked or how active you were if you’re not tracking it?” said Jackie Cuyvers, a digital strategist from the United Kingdom.

Cuyvers bought a Fitbit for both her and her husband. She wanted to get a benchmark on what her daily activity was, as well as be more fit and active.

“I compete with my husband and you can send taunts to them, so if you see they’re not meeting their goal and you have more steps, then you can be a little competitive and send them a message.”

The little device is now helping her in ways she never expected.

“It’s increased my activity level but it also tracks my sleep,” said Cuyvers. “I can see I’m sleeping more poorly than I thought I was.”

On a larger scale, some experts say these consumer technologies are saving lives.

“For cardiology patients, having a device that’s monitoring their heart, that will be linked in to their cardiologist and will flag if there’s a problem,” said Alexandra Fulford, a pharmaceuticals and health care digital strategist. “And so that patient can be brought in to the doctors, or in some cases, they’re going straight into the emergency room because of the data coming from the wearables.”

Elizabeth Glenewinkel with Gravity Tank says we’re still in the early stages of this technology, and that wearables will likely be very different in four years.

“I think the future of health care, we’re definitely going to see a huge increase in wearables,” Fulford believes. “Based from patient point of view, but also hospital point of view, and also from doctors, because of the incredible outcomes it can have for patients.”

Despite the benefits of wearables, some consumers don’t wear them so long. Glenewinkel says 1/3 of Americans stopped wearing their devices after six months, and more than half of Americans who use wearable activity trackers no longer use them.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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