“…and now an urgent SOS message”

17 Dec 2014 2min read

Stella Wooder

Previous employee

Listening to BBC Radio 4 recently, I was reminded of the emergency SOS messages that were occasionally broadcast until the early 90’s…

“Could Mrs Daphne Harris, believed to be holidaying in The Lake District with her husband, Trevor, please ring Glasgow District Hospital where her aunt is dangerously ill.”

In the world of smartphones, tablet computers, WiFi, instant messaging and email, this last resort approach – appealing for relatives in a public transmission – now seems completely alien to us. We have become used to being always connected via sophisticated communication technologies.

Some predict that, by 2030, connected technologies will ensure that our health is continually assessed by smart biosensor technology. Systems will automatically monitor our vital signs, or test for biomarkers which predict the onset of disease and communicate the status to our physician automatically – all within the home. Technology is already able to check that a patient is adhering to their medicine regime. US company, Proteus Digital Health, has developed a system which records when a pill is ingested and also tracks other things like sleep patterns and physical activity levels. This is achieved using sensor-enabled pills, a peel-and-stick sensor patch worn on the body, and a mobile phone based health app.

Some feel that this level of connectivity may become too intrusive; that we are overstepping the mark. It is a difficult balance to strike. Whatever the right answer is, one thing is certain, communications have come a long way since the broadcast of the emergency SOS message.

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