What if, one day, your watch could alert you of the early signs of an asthma attack? Or anaphylaxis? Or what if your bracelet could detect whether an allergen is present in the food you’re served? Whether a watch, a patch, a bracelet, or another wearable device, it appears as if wearable tech is the future for those with asthma or allergies that can cause anaphylactic reactions.
Can you imagine?
The last – and only time – we had to call 911 for a severe asthma attack was an early morning rodeo. My son came in to our room around 4:30 gasping for air; a nebulizer treatment later, and he still could not catch his breath. So we called for an ambulance, put some non-sleep clothes on and rushed to the front porch to wait for the paramedics for what seemed like hours.
In those moments, I was panicked and disoriented. I didn’t know what to do because this attack crept up on us while we were sleeping. And by the time we knew he was having trouble, he was in the throes of a severe attack.
Having a wearable patch—currently named the Automated Device for Asthma Monitoring and Management and demonstrated at the 2016 CES—to alert him that his body was beginning to struggle could have saved us from the rush of throwing the nebulizer together and unsettling realization that it was time to change from our pj’s because a hospital visit was on the horizon.
Two other forms of wearable tech for food allergies and those prone to anaphylaxis are also in the works.
Imagine this: Your child begins to experience anaphylactic symptoms, what do you do? For many of us—unless it’s clear what’s going on in our child’s body, or our action plan calls for immediate administration of epinephrine—trying to figure out exactly how to respond in the case of a reaction can be unnerving and confusing.
Enter a wearable tech device that monitors a person’s vitals to give a clear indication of how the body is responding to an allergen. Add to it the possibility of the device automatically injecting the person experiencing the allergic reaction. Creating this device is the dream of a family that lost their daughter to an allergic reaction. How generous it is of Abbie Benford’s family to channel their grief into something that could one day save lives.
Finally, imagine being able to eat out with little to no care in the world. Short a cure, which all of us are rooting for, the Allergy Amulet would be a great start for families like ours. Rather than replace the due diligence of asking solid questions when you eat out, the device would be a backup to ensure that what is served is, indeed safe. Wear it like jewelry, and test your food for the presence of your allergens, and bam! You’re good to go. This interview with the co-founder of the Allergy Amulet gives detailed insight into the design and goal of this elegant wearable tech.
This kind of technology takes time to develop and test and perfect. But it’s worth highlighting, I think, that people are committed to making strides in keeping asthmatics and severely allergic folks safe.
It reminds me of a conversation I had with my sister not too long after our 911 episode with my son’s asthma attack. She had asthma as a child. I asked her what it was like to have an asthma attack. She described a particularly severe attack she had simply by saying, “My lungs were locked. There was no way I could catch a breath; I felt like I was going to die.”
My heart broke hearing that, knowing how many of our loved ones have felt this way. I hope that, beyond finding a cure for severe allergies and asthma, these wearable tech concepts, and all of the devices yet to come, offer our loved ones a quality of life that they have not yet known.