It is the year 2035. Wearable technology has advanced rapidly beyond its early iterations. Instead of smartwatches, goggles or haptic gloves, "wearables" are now unobtrusively integrated into our clothing and accessories. Your shirt has embedded sensors to track your heart and lung function, your belt tracks balance and communicates with your shoes to measure walking performance. Long gone are the old-world concerns about connecting or charging your tech gear, replaced by low power devices that harness your body’s heat and motion to maintain their charge.
Fatta Nahab, Head of Movement Disorders Science Unit, Biogen Digital Health
These different components are capable of seamlessly working together and sharing their meaningful data with you and anyone else you allow. In this hypothetical scenario, you are not engaged in a video game — you are a participant in a clinical trial. The wearable devices you are donning passively monitor your heart rate, body temperature, sleep patterns and more. These metrics are aggregated in a private, secure portal with other participants' data, and artificially intelligent algorithms discern trends, identify anomalies, and distil the most salient information. This data then helps researchers — and ultimately health care providers — hone new treatments and create personalized care plans for each of their patients.
This futuristic scenario is still speculative, but it is not exactly that far off a dream. Today, digital technologies are increasingly playing a critical role in health care, and clinical research in particular.