Health tech unveiled at CES: New high-tech ways to monitor blood pressure, detect Alzheimer's and crush germs – USA TODAY

Good news, I have a heart. Bad news, it’s beating faster than it should. I know this for two reasons: I can feel it take a battering ram to my ribcage and the new OptiBP smartphone app just told me so. 
Swiss startup Biospectal unveiled the beta version of its app at CES last week. The company sent me an Android phone preloaded with the app along with an Omron blood pressure cuff to try it out. Before you take your first reading, you need to calibrate the app with a traditional cuff. Then, you live your life. 
To take a reading, I touch the camera lens and the flash lights up, measuring the blood flow in my fingertip. The app uses algorithms to figure out my pulse and blood pressure – in about the same amount of time it takes me to complete two big deep breaths.
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“You can turn your smartphone into a blood pressure monitor in a matter of minutes,” Biospectal CEO Eliott Jones told me. “(High blood pressure) affects more than 1.4 billion people worldwide,” he explains, “so having a medical-grade device that integrates directly into a smartphone that’s already in your pocket (can help) both patients and doctors keep track of vital signs, anytime, anywhere.” 
This app and technology have been in the works for quite some time, but Jones says the pandemic sped up the need for such critical remote monitoring “by several years.” Especially for people like me who are generally healthy, haven’t been to the doctor since COVID-19 started, and tend to ignore weird things like a racing heart. 
OptiBP is available on Android devices in the U.K., France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, and anyone in the U.S. can sign up for the public beta on Biospectal’s website. 
From high-tech doorbells that check if you have a fever to smart masks measuring your breathing and a wearable BioButton that knows if you have symptoms of COVID-19 before you do, the latest health tech unveiled at CES put our own bodies more front and center in the latest evolution of innovation than ever before.
If what’s been unveiled last week is any indication, expect a future where our gadgets help us more easily detect, monitor, and care for ourselves and others in a myriad of subtle ways.
Here are some of the most notable:
Anti-germ gadgets in every shape and size are a huge deal this year – from UBTECH’s giant Adibot robot that rolls through offices and classrooms beaming rays of UV-C light to sterilize large areas – to germ-crushing backpacks, keyboards and desk lamps. 
The 2Office Antimicrobial Backpack from tech accessory company Targus is made out of a water-resistant silver ion material with germ-and bacteria-fighting features actually embedded into the durable fiber. The company says this should help create a cleaner barrier between the outside world and your safe little bubble at home. The backpack should be out by April for around $120. 
Targus also debuted its antimicrobial keyboards and a UV-C LED Desktop Disinfection Light. The lamp sits between your monitor and keyboard and automatically turns on every hour, blasting UV light for five minutes to destroy bacteria, viruses, fungus, or mold. Since UV light is harmful to your skin, motion-activated sensors wait until you’re gone to light up. The lamp is also due out in April for just under $300.
Portable air filters to kill viruses, bacteria and allergens in your home and office weren’t the only devices to debut en masse. In addition to many new varieties for your house, office, and face, the auto-accessory maker GHSP showed off its new grēnlite ultraviolet light designed to kill coronavirus in cars.
The company says the gadget features a patented system of sensors that know when someone’s in the car and waits until it’s empty to douse the interior with UV-C light to treat surfaces and the air. The tech is already used in emergency vehicles and for commercial use, but a spokesperson texted me that, “the passenger car version does not yet have an expected to market date. Pricing will be dependent upon final feature sets, and any partnerships with (automakers).” 
The iSyncWave helmet is another just-unveiled gadget aiming to bring clinical-level diagnostic tools home. On its parent website, iMediSync, the company says the brain-mapping device can detect early signs of Alzheimer’s and provide LED-light therapy for dementia, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, ADHD, depression and other neurological issues. 
It works by using similar electroencephalogram, or EEG, technology currently used in doctor’s offices and hospitals to detect electrical activity in your brain. But traditional EEGs require adhesive electrode patches attached to your scalp or electrode helmets filled with gel. The iSyncWave is supposed to just sit on top of your head. No word yet on when the helmet might be available or how much it’s expected to cost.
Remember that whole, “I’ve fallen and I can’t up,” LifeAlert gadget from the ’80s? Well, think of the Nobi lamp as a super cool – and super expensive – 2021 version. 
Nobi looks like a sleek, modern, pendant-style ceiling lamp, but it’s also packed full of smart sensors to detect trouble like falls or inactivity, and can send out alerts to get help quickly. It can also help prevent problems before they happen with activity monitoring and reminders. 
The company explains that the lamp has motion sensors and infrared detection that work with AI to understand different positions like sitting up or laying down. If you take a tumble, the lamp asks out loud if you’ve fallen. If you say, “no,” it goes back to being a lamp. If it hears a “yes,” “help,” or no response, it launches into preprogrammed alerts. It can even send images and has a two-way microphone to talk with a caregiver or emergency responders.
Nobi will be available for professional installations in places like nursing homes first, with a subscription cost of $120 a month including hardware. You’ll also eventually be able to buy the system outright starting at a whopping $2,500 with a $20 a month subscription. 
The company says the lamp is ready for rollout in European countries as soon as March, but no word yet on when it might come to the United States.
Smart toothbrushes have been a staple of the last several CES shows, but this year Philips launched the Sonicare Prestige 9900 with sensors to detect how hard you’re brushing, the movements you make with the brush, and how well you actually clean your teeth and gums. 
But knowing you’re doing this stuff is not what’s new to smarter teeth tech. The brush automatically adjusting itself is. If you push a bit too hard – which can irritate your gums, potentially erode enamel, and make your teeth more sensitive – the brush automatically adjusts its own intensity.
The Prestige syncs with the Sonicare app on your smartphone (of course) to give you real-time guidance as you brush. It’s due to hit store shelves in April 2021, no word yet on the price.
Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy Award-winning consumer tech columnist and host of USA TODAY’s digital video show TECHNOW. Email her at Follow her on Twitter: @JenniferJolly.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.


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