The Next Big Fitness Metric: Breathing

Todays’ wearable technology is being used to track a great many statistics related to fitness and health.

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Devices from Fitbit and Jawbone, for example, can be used to monitor heart rate, calories burned, total activity time and much more.

They provide deeper insights into our bodies and make it easier to keep an eye on information. If you’re trying to lose weight, then knowing your caloric intake and output is extremely important. If you’re trying to gain weight or muscle, the same is true.

At CES this year, 3M unveiled a new type of wearable that would introduce a whole new fitness and health metric — breathing. This technology is absolutely revolutionary, provided it’s accurate. Better consumer knowledge of air pollution could lead to more regulations and actions to decrease air pollution.

Monitoring Asthma and Allergies

Perhaps the most obvious — and most crucial — use for this technology is to measure the breathing of those suffering from asthma and severe allergies. The wearable offers real-time breathing measurements, allowing both patients and physicians to identify respiratory challenges.

About 24 million Americans suffer from asthma, while 50 million have nasal allergies that affect their respiratory system. This could allow health professionals to diagnose patients more effectively. But it can also help those who are suffering to identify problematic breathing patterns so that they may take further action.

Reducing Pollutants and Improving Air Quality

An unintended but just as useful deployment of this technology could help us better understand how pollutants and air quality affects our breathing. Better consumer knowledge of air pollution and its immediate health effects could lead to a stronger push for regulations and environmental health standards.

Some individual industries already have pollution and emission standards in place, but there’s certainly room for improvement. For example, not all counties require drivers’ vehicles to pass an emissions test during their yearly inspection. Why not?

While some emission standards call for specific pollution reduction requirements to be met, these tend to apply to company and consumer vehicles, not so much entire companies themselves.

If breathing metric monitoring were to become more mainstream, maybe we’d be more conscious of what we’re breathing in, in the same way Fitbits made us more aware of how few steps we take a day.

Assisting With Medical Treatments and Procedures

Ever notice how hospitals and medical professionals have to measure a great deal of information about their patients’ bodies? The smaller this equipment gets, the better.

The breathing technology 3M has introduced could have so many uses in the medical world. Researchers have even come up with ways to detect problems in breathing through software algorithms. Combined with something like 3M’s technology, health professionals could get to the bottom of respiratory ailments and complications.

Adjusting Form and Pace

One thing runners, especially marathoners, must always be aware of is their breathing. If you cannot control your breathing during a run or workout, you can run into a few complications. Breathing properly and bringing in the right amount of oxygen also helps you maintain your stamina, which is used to run longer distances or work out for longer sessions.

3M’s wearable would allow runners to track this data and better control breathing during a workout session. For instance, the technology could send alerts if you’re breathing too heavy or too shallow, and may even offer suggestions how to fix the problem.

This could double as a training device to help marathoners train better over time, too.

When Will 3M’s Wearable Be Available?

While no exact dates or release schedules have been given, 3M has made it clear that the wearable and companion app will launch sometime during the summer. You can expect to see mobile apps for Android and iOS, but more detailed information will be available closer to launch.

The new technology can help us exercise smarter and avoid air pollution. Sounds like something many people can get on board with.

Image by Rawpixel

About the Author

Kayla Matthews
Kayla Matthews is a gadgets and technology blogger who contributes to Gear Diary, MakeUseOf and Inc.com.

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