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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

Epileptic seizures are debilitating, but they can also be fatal, this latest breakthrough pre-warns people before they have them.

 

Embrace is a smartwatch of a different kind. It’s able to tell time, analyse sleep patterns, and, more crucially, it’s also able to tell if you’re about to have an epileptic fit. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) the new wearable looks for signals of what’s known as a “Grand Mal” seizure, and then sends an alert to a designated family member or caregiver. Made by Empatica, which was spun out of MIT, Embrace first went on sale in Europe last December, but this week, in a major milestone for the product, the US Food and drug Administration (FDA) approved it for sale throughout the US.

 

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A grand mal seizure is usually associated with epilepsy, and is characterised by severe convulsions, as well as a loss of consciousness, they’re also called “Tonic-clonic Seizures” and can last as long as two to three minutes.

A study that included Embrace studied 135 people over 272 days monitoring 40 tonic-clonic seizures and the wearable detected all of them. But medical wearables are not just for hospital use any more. Smartwatch bands and other products are helping people detect irregular heart rhythms, take EKG’s from their wrist and even predict the onset of illness, and there are reports that Apple’s Tim Cook has been using a wearable to track his blood sugar as well.

Embrace is now on sale for $249 and requires a monthly subscription of $9.90, but in order to currently get seizure alerts, wearers based in the US must first be enrolled in the company’s clinical trials, according to Empatica’s web site.

 

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About 3.4 million people in the US have epilepsy, including 470,000 children, which can bring about grand mal seizures, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and, as far as they’re concerned, Embrace is a huge step forwards in helping them manage them condition, keep them safe and avoid harm.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the 311 Institute, a global futures think tank working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future.” Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, CNBC, Discovery, RT, and Viacom, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring several Education and Lunar XPrize teams, building the first generation of biological computers and re-envisioning global education with the G20, and helping the world’s largest conglomerates ideate the next 20 years of intelligent devices and machines. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Bain & Co, BCG, BOA, Blackrock, Bentley, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, Du Pont, E&Y, HPE, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, UBS, and many more.

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