Face mask that stops you mumbling and loo that gives you health MOT: Gadgets unveiled at tech show

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It seems like a lifetime ago. Just days after the 2019 General Election, health secretary Matt Hancock appeared on national TV setting out his vision for a ‘digital NHS’.

He promised the newly elected Government would ‘double down on the tech agenda and bring the NHS into the 21st Century’.

His plan, which included greater funding for cutting-edge technology, was ambitious.

But no one could have predicted quite how prescient it was, too.

A little over a month after that announcement, the first Covid case reached our shores – and our healthcare system underwent a radical overhaul, almost overnight. And it will, most agree, never be the same again.

While front-line doctors learned to tackle the deadly disease, with the country in lockdown GPs had to work out how to treat patients without being in the same room.

Prior to the pandemic, the vast majority of appointments were face-to-face – now, most are carried out via video consultation or by phone.

This new strategy hasn’t won over all patients but a survey carried out by the British Medical Association in June found that 88 per cent of GPs wanted to continue using remote consultations after the Covid-19 crisis is solved.

In 2020 the UK saw £1.3 billion invested into its digital health tech. So it’s not surprising that at this year’s CES technology trade show, health tech was a key component.

The event, which took place online, unveiled a number of major gadgets designed to help us protect, monitor and manage our own health, without needing a doctor at all. From the space-age face masks that amplify the voice, to virus-killing robots, Covid was, of course, a major theme. 

Others are simply bizarre – for instance, a ‘smart’ toilet that can carry out urine and stool analysis. But as healthcare at home gets ever more high tech, could such innovations become commonplace in the near future?

The Mail on Sunday compiled the most exciting gadgets from this year’s show… so you can decide for yourself.

Covid mask that gives you that Darth Vader look

The surgical N95 respirator face mask is made of transparent plastic – making it easier for people to lip read, it’s reusable, and it even lights up in the dark

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

The Project Hazel is a surgical N95 respirator face mask – the type approved for medical-grade PPE – which also amplifies the voice. It’s made of transparent plastic – making it easier for people to lip read, it’s reusable, and it even lights up in the dark.

The mask comes with a charging case that sterilises the device using UV light. Oh, and you’ll look like something from Star Wars while wearing it, if that’s any bonus.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The mask fits snuggly to the face, with soft silicone seals. An in-built microphone on the inside transmits the voice to a speaker outside, making it clear and easier to understand what’s being said, even behind the layers of plastic. We weren’t able to try it out, so can’t vouch for whether it makes you sound like Darth Vader as well as look like him.

WHEN CAN I GET IT?

Razer plans to continue developing Project Hazel before it goes on the market. 

razer.com/gb-en/concepts/razerproject-hazel

Video-game eye test that spots sight loss

The device carries out ten diagnostic tests for common eye conditions, from colour blindness to glaucoma - high pressure inside the eyeball that causes a gradual loss of vision

The device carries out ten diagnostic tests for common eye conditions, from colour blindness to glaucoma – high pressure inside the eyeball that causes a gradual loss of vision

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

The Vror Eye Dr uses the same technology found in virtual-reality computer game headsets – so users see a computer-generated image through the lenses, rather than what is actually in front of them. But this is no game: the device carries out ten diagnostic tests for common eye conditions, from colour blindness to glaucoma – high pressure inside the eyeball that causes a gradual loss of vision.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Once strapped to the head, users see a computer-generated 3D landscape through the goggles. This stimulates the entire visual field, so is said to give a better indication of how the eye functions in day-to-day life than a normal eye test, which uses static images on a screen. An in-built computer takes measurements of the eye’s reaction to the stimuli in the landscape, and this is beamed back to the medical professional assisting the test.

WHEN CAN I GET IT?

There is currently no release date for the Vror Eye Dr but the company has plans to offer it for use at eye clinics in the US and further afield. m2skorea.com

The loo that gives diet tips

The Wellness Toilet is linked to an app that warns you if your diet is unbalanced and makes suggestions on how to improve it - by eating more fibre, for example

The Wellness Toilet is linked to an app that warns you if your diet is unbalanced and makes suggestions on how to improve it – by eating more fibre, for example

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

The Wellness Toilet by Japanese firm Toto analyses the user’s ‘key outputs’ to provide recommendations on ways to improve their health. It’s linked to an app that warns you if your diet is unbalanced and makes suggestions on how to improve it – by eating more fibre, for example. Sensors in the seat also record the user’s pulse and blood pressure.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Toto says the loo uses biosensors to analyse waste. People with poor gut health are well known to be at increased risk of serious conditions such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s and even depression – and a Korean study published last week found they may also be more likely to suffer from severe Covid symptoms.

WHEN CAN I GET IT?

Bill Strang, US chief of Toto, says the launch of the toilet, which is still in prototype stage, is ‘a year or two down the road’. toto.com

Backpack and keyboard that sanitise themselves

The lamp uses UV-C light to kill germs. It switches itself on for five minutes every hour – but not if it detects a hand under it, as UV-C can be harmful to human skin

The lamp uses UV-C light to kill germs. It switches itself on for five minutes every hour – but not if it detects a hand under it, as UV-C can be harmful to human skin

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

Attach the UV-C LED Disinfection Light to a keyboard and it will kill germs on its surface, while the 2Office Antimicrobial Backpack’s fabric has an antimicrobial finish.

HOW DO THEY WORK? 

The lamp uses UV-C light to kill germs. It switches itself on for five minutes every hour – but not if it detects a hand under it, as UV-C can be harmful to human skin. The backpack neutralises pathogens.

WHEN CAN I GET IT?

The UV-C LED Disinfection Light will cost £220. The 2Office Antimicrobial Backpack will cost £88. ap.targus.com

App detects blood pressure from a selfie

As our heart beats, blood pulses through these veins, causing minute colour changes in our skin. These are detectable, even by a smartphone camera

As our heart beats, blood pulses through these veins, causing minute colour changes in our skin. These are detectable, even by a smartphone camera

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

The Anura app measures blood pressure by taking a 30-second video of the user’s face. Doctors say the app could help people avoid unnecessary visits to the GP.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The blood that flows through the veins in our face sits close to surface of the skin. As our heart beats, blood pulses through these veins, causing minute colour changes in our skin. These are detectable, even by a smartphone camera. The Anura is able to analyse these changes to give an accurate reading of our blood pressure.

WHEN CAN I GET IT?

Anura is available now to download for iPhone and android for free. anura.ai

Two pairs of glasses… in one

Turning the dial allows the two lenses to slide over each other – the same technology used to power the zoom on smartphone cameras

Turning the dial allows the two lenses to slide over each other – the same technology used to power the zoom on smartphone cameras

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

Constantly switching between reading and driving glasses? This stylish pair promises to be the only set you’ll ever need, housing two prescriptions in one.

These so-called ‘tunable glasses’ make switching between prescriptions ‘seamless’, says San Francisco start-up Voy.

It’s even possible to adjust one lens at a time, if prescriptions differs between the eyes.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The secret lies with a dial that sits on the top of the frame. Turning the dial allows the two lenses to slide over each other – the same technology used to power the zoom on smartphone cameras.

The Voy glasses can change from a -5 prescription to a 2+ in a matter of seconds.

WHEN CAN I GET IT?

The Voy glasses are currently available online for £58.55. voyglasses.com

The patch that scans for Covid

The size of a 10p piece, the BioButton sticks to the skin and by monitoring temperature, respiratory rate and heart rate, can give an early warning if the wearer has Covid

 The size of a 10p piece, the BioButton sticks to the skin and by monitoring temperature, respiratory rate and heart rate, can give an early warning if the wearer has Covid

Technology that can monitor the body’s vitals just through skin contact are nothing new – there’s similar gadgetry inside many wrist-worn fitness trackers, for instance

Technology that can monitor the body’s vitals just through skin contact are nothing new – there’s similar gadgetry inside many wrist-worn fitness trackers, for instance

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

The size of a 10p piece, the BioButton sticks to the skin and by monitoring temperature, respiratory rate and heart rate, can give an early warning if the wearer has Covid. Covid testing of course is now widely available but BioButton makers BiointelliSense point out that even PCR tests – recognised as the most accurate – can miss more than 30 per cent of early-stage infections.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Technology that can monitor the body’s vitals just through skin contact are nothing new – there’s similar gadgetry inside many wrist-worn fitness trackers, for instance. But this is linked to an app that uses an algorithm that can detect changes that signal Covid before symptoms are even noticed. The idea is that it would be given by doctors to those most at risk from Covid.

WHEN CAN I GET IT?

It’s already been approved for medical use in America and is currently being tested in hospitals. BioButton costs around £65, and can be worn for 90 days. There’s no release date for the UK yet. biointellisense.com

Exterminate! Robot can target coronavirus 

First, the user programmes the cleaning route via a smartphone app. The robot then navigates itself using in-built motion and audio sensors

First, the user programmes the cleaning route via a smartphone app. The robot then navigates itself using in-built motion and audio sensors

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

Robot vacuum cleaners are nothing new – but this machine is said to destroy microscopic traces of bacteria and viruses – including Covid – using high-energy beams of light. The Unipin Ultraviolet Disinfection Robot can also disinfect at high speeds – taking just over two hours to clean an average-sized nursing home.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

First, the user programmes the cleaning route via a smartphone app. The robot then navigates itself using in-built motion and audio sensors. It uses ultraviolet light to destroy living organisms – studies have shown this type of UV light can alter the structure of virus particles and stop them from reproducing.

Motion sensors stop the device emitting UV light within five metres of a person, as the rays can harm human skin. It also contains a filter to clean the air, ridding surfaces of Covid-19 particles and droplets in the air.

WHEN CAN I GET IT?

There’s currently no release date, but the manufacturers say it will be priced at roughly £5,500. unipintp.com

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