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CES 2018: Tech promising to help our health

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The Consumer Electronics Show – now just CES - began in 1967, with a focus on TV and radio technology.

Step forward 50 years, and TVs remain a big part of the show, only now they’re joined by a host of smart tech, including devices designed to improve or enhance our health.

Here’s my pick of the most exciting healthcare innovations from CES 2018 which could change our lives for the better.

My Special Aflac Duck

Winner of several awards at CES 2018, including Tech for a Better World, My Special Aflac Duck is a social robot designed to help children better cope with cancer.

The robotic duck is the result of a year of child-centred research by Sproutel, an R&D workshop which focuses on making healthcare fun and playful.

My Special Aflac Duck features natural movement and play, designed to offer a fun distraction for children coping with cancer. The companion duck also supports a web-based app that gives children the ability to mirror their care routines: medical play, feeding and bathing are offered via augmented reality.

Perhaps most impressive is the way the duck “endures the same often-painful therapies” as the young patients, reinforcing the fact the child is not going through the process alone.

After further testing, it’s hoped My Special Aflac Duck will be available to children with cancer in winter 2018/19.

L'Oreal UV Sense

The sun is hugely beneficial to us, yet too much exposure can be extremely harmful. 15,906 new cases of melanoma skin cancer were diagnosed in the UK in 2015, with 86% of cases linked to UV radiation as the main, avoidable risk factor.

Step up cosmetics company L’Oreal. Most famous for its “Because I’m worth it” slogan, L’Oreal began creating sunscreen products way back in 1935.

Building on what the company did with its wearable My UV Patch in 2016, UV Sense is a battery-free wearable electronic sensor which measures a person’s UV exposure. Only millimetres in size, UV Sense is designed to be stuck to the thumbnail, where it will stay for up to two weeks (it can be reapplied with additional adhesives).

With no battery, UV Sense draws its power from UVA and UVB rays, and can wirelessly send up to three months of collected data to an accompanying mobile app. From the app, users will be able to view their exposure levels and read tips about being sun safe.

L’Oreal aims to launch in the US this summer, and globally in 2019.

Philips SmartSleep

The Philips SmartSleep is perhaps the most science fiction of any new product at CES this year. Designed for those getting fewer than seven hours sleep a night, Philips claims it can alter your brain waves to make you feel more rested and refreshed. Take my money now.

According to Philips, almost 40% of those aged 25-54 get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night, leading to issues with concentration, memory and focus. Studies indicate that slow-wave sleep, otherwise known as deep sleep, plays an important role in ensuring you wake up feeling great. Those who get high-quality deep sleep are reported to be more alert, more energetic and have improved memory function.

SmartSleep is a wearable headband which can sense periods of deep sleep, then step in to boost these slow waves by playing customised audio tones. Philips says this results in enhanced depth and duration of slow wave sleep.

So, rather than having to get more sleep – something many of us find extremely difficult to achieve - Philips believes it can turn the sleep you already get into something more beneficial.

Furthermore, Philips says SmartSleep can be used with no side effects.

It’s certainly an exciting time in the word of smart healthcare.