December 16, 2014 7:37 pm
Updated: December 16, 2014 9:57 pm

Wearable technology meant to improve health and wellbeing

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WATCH: Wearable technology is all the rage, but will it actually help make you healthier? Peter Kim reports.

From body sensing t-shirts to head bands that detect brain waves, what was long thought the stuff of science fiction is now becoming reality.

The OMSignal is biometric smartwear that measures heart and breath rate, as well as the number of steps taken. The t-shirts use that information to calculate how many calories the wearer has burned throughout the day.

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“It actually has the sensors woven into the shirt, and the information is collected into a black box and streamed to your smartphone,” said Tom Emrich, the founder of We Are Wearables.

In the gym, the PUSH band can serve as a post-workout personal trainer that may help you avoid those dreaded plateaus.

“It focuses on measuring two metrics, power and velocity, to make sure you’re not overtraining or undertraining, and it will then offer recommendations like slow down, speed up, or add more weight,” said Emrich.

The Moto 360 is a smartwatch that utilizes voice and touch technology to monitor personal health information similar to that collected by the OMSignal.

With all this bulk data collection comes valid privacy concerns according to experts. Dr. Michael Brudno is the Canada Research Chair in Computational Biology and says data privacy is really up to each individual company to ensure.

“The question you have to ask yourself is how important is that information to you. If someone knows whether you exercise 30 minutes a day or not, could it affect your health insurance rates,” said Brudno.

Another issue is whether such devices actually improve health outcomes.

“I think the jury is still out on that, there hasn’t been enough data collected yet to really know for sure,” said technology consultant Jason Offet. “There’s a lot of speculation out there that this is going to be a lot like health club memberships: you feel better for having bought it, but at the end of the day does it make you healthier? Maybe not.”

Wearable health technology is premised on the idea that knowing will translate into doing (i.e., getting active), but the latter still relies on human agency.

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