How Wearable Devices Can Predict Illness

Apr 20, 2022

In recent years, Canada has begun to get a serious reputation for innovations in technology – and rightly so. Our own BC Tech Association hosts an Innovation Hub. Calgary, through General Electric and others, supports a growing commitment to hi-tech innovation. Montreal has spawned innumerable hi-tech operations in the past few years.

According to the Canadian Innovation Exchange (CIX) Top 20-selection committee, many of the hottest, most innovative Canadian technology companies are from all corners of our increasingly innovative country – Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Montreal – although a great many continue to thrive and grow in and around Waterloo. In fact, the Toronto-Waterloo technology corridor is recognized as being home to several of the most forward-looking companies in Canada.

Good News for Retirees & Seniors

While researching Waterloo’s stellar high-tech record recently, we came across a bulletin in Lab Manager of exceptional relevance to our Everything Retirement audience. While not recent, it remains incredibly relevant.

Published by the University of Waterloo, entitled Wearable Technology and AI Combine to Predict the Onset of Health Problems (May 17, 2018), the report made some compelling observations.

1. An Application of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

A study undertaken by researchers from Waterloo’s Faculties of Applied Health Sciences and Engineering discovered that the data from wearable sensors assessing changes in aerobic responses could one day predict whether a person is experiencing the onset of a respiratory or cardiovascular disease. This was fairly groundbreaking, and has many applications related to preserving the health and wellness of aging Canadians.

According to Thomas Beltrame, who led the research while at the University of Waterloo, and who is now at the Institute of Computing in University of Campinas in Brazil:

“The onset of a lot of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, has a direct impact on our aerobic fitness. In the near future, we believe it will be possible to continuously check your health, even before you realize that you need medical help.”

2. An Example of Multidisciplinary Research

One of the most inspiring aspects of this breakthrough is that it came about as a result of a multidisciplinary team effort. According to Lab Manager: “Beltrame and Hughson co-authored the study with Alexander Wong, Canada Research Chair in artificial intelligence and medical imaging and an engineering professor at Waterloo.”

The study, originally published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, was facilitated by the application of a smart shirt pioneered by a Montreal-based company called Carré Technologies. Montreal is, as mentioned earlier, another thriving centre of high-tech innovation in Canada.


Research teams continue testing this extraordinary innovation on mixed ages and genders. We’re certain they’ve come leaps and bounds already since the study was published, and will keep pushing the boundaries of innovation to the benefit of our collective health. That’s excellent news for our senior audience as well as the members of our increasingly younger reader demographic.

It is hoped that eventually, a wider range of people might be encouraged to wear the sensors to gauge whether their health is failing. And, once they know, they can tackle the issue head-on – ideally, while there’s still time to slow or reverse the impact. Onwards and upwards!

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