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AT&T Science Technology

AT&T Pushes 'Connected' Clothing For Healthcare 63

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-what-would-at&t-know-about-staying-connected dept.
gManZboy writes "Babies, athletes, first responders, the elderly — a growing list of people could benefit from connected clothing, says AT&T, which claims 'the stars have aligned' for this technology. Prices of clothing sensors have come down; Wi-Fi and wireless networks have become ubiquitous; and mobile apps have become easier to design and simpler to use. 'For example, parents of babies could cover them in connected clothing to check on their children when they were out of the house ... And relatives of elderly people who are "aging in place" in their homes could check on their vital signs and make sure their loved ones haven't fallen. This could help the elderly stay out of assisted living facilities, as most prefer to do.'"
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AT&T Pushes 'Connected' Clothing For Healthcare

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  • ...as long as someone other than AT&T implements it, so those of us who live in the Bay Area or New York City can actually use it.

    On a more serious note, if wireless clothing becomes a tool for remotely monitoring medical status, doesn't this open carriers up to potential lawsuits when their network fails and someone dies of treatable maladies as a result?

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday November 04, 2011 @05:38PM (#37953188) Homepage

      ...as long as someone other than AT&T implements it, so those of us who live in the Bay Area or New York City can actually use it.

      On a more serious note, if wireless clothing becomes a tool for remotely monitoring medical status, doesn't this open carriers up to potential lawsuits when their network fails and someone dies of treatable maladies as a result?

      I would like to see AT&T and whomever do this right - run a decently powered study to see if such monitoring actually helps the patient instead of the company's bottom line. Given it is AT&T and the US healthcare system, I imagine that it will be done exactly backwards from this.

      Yeah, the stars are aligning. The stars in the account's heads when then can get every baby and grandma on a monthly data plan.

      • by kesuki (321456)

        http://www.lifealert.com/lifealertmobile.aspx [lifealert.com]
        why repeat this technology, and they also make baby monitors...
        the idea of 'smart clothes' is dead on arrival
        i know it's through a cell phone, but someone somewhere had to have thought of having wireless medical monitoring, people do not want microchips in their clothes how can you wash them?!? hot water is the bane of electronics and can penetrate most waterproofing, except full board immersion in polymers.

    • I'm thinkin' that it will never be used for critical patients, but when you need to gather information about someone all day it'd be a lot more fun to wear a shirt or something than have to carry a machine or be tied to a network cable.

      • by formfeed (703859)

        but when you need to gather information about someone all day it'd be a lot more fun to wear a shirt or something than have to carry a machine

        Yes, but now you can also gather information about people who weren't carrying a machine before.
        Think access control and exact location data for patients and staff, where they went, how long, who they met,..

      • by Arlet (29997)

        This assumes the tech is reliable enough that it can be made to work in a comfortable (loose hanging) shirt, that it has a good power source that will last for a long time, and that it can go through a washer and dryer without breaking, and that it's cheap enough that I can buy a wardrobe full of clothes that all have this technology.

        I would think a device that's worn like a wristwatch has a better chance of working.

        • by icebike (68054) on Friday November 04, 2011 @07:17PM (#37953854)

          I would think a device that's worn like a wristwatch has a better chance of working.

          Or a pendant on a neck strap, and maybe a retired Surgeon General [lifealert.org] to shill for it?

          But these will never go mainstream.
          The pendant or the watch can stay with you, and you only need one. If you build it into clothing, you need
          dozens for every user, one for every garment. How can you make money selling ONE to a customer?

    • by Dunbal (464142) *

      doesn't this open carriers up to potential lawsuits when their network fails and someone dies of treatable maladies as a result?

      Of course not. And if it does, they will just make the government write laws to exempt them from this.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Not a big fan of privacy are you. At least with AT&T you can be sure that nobody's going to be able to get reception long enough to do any tracking.

    • by sconeu (64226)

      Or, if they have a data breach, or even just sniffing, does it open them up to HIPAA violations?

    • by Greyfox (87712)
      Yeah, on their crappy-ass network I'll be dead a week before anyone finds out about it.
    • by timeOday (582209)

      doesn't this open carriers up to potential lawsuits when their network fails and someone dies of treatable maladies as a result?

      Have there previously been successful lawsuits by people who tried to place a phonecall for help and the line was down or busy? How about suing Chrysler because a Jason and Freddy are chasing you and your car suddenly won't start? These things are manageable.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There are major privacy implications with at&t's endeavor. Also, what sort of paradox results when there are many people whos vital signs are directly impacted by EM radiation from the telcos equipment which is being used to relay the health information!

    • by icebike (68054)

      when there are many people whos vital signs are directly impacted by EM radiation

      The mind boggles!!!

      I'm pretty sure they all live out side of AT&Ts coverage area.

    • by ooshna (1654125)

      I work in a nursing home and we had a resident that had a wireless ekg hooked up for to weeks that relaid the info to a cellphone she had to keep in her pocket and that relaid the info straight to the hospital where they were monitoring her. It was actually kinda cool.

    • I thought the idea behind this was just to charge the homeless when they get your jacket?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    One 3G data plan per piece of clothing.

    • Let's fix this:

      "Babies, athletes, first responders, the elderly — a growing list of people could benefit from connected clothing, says AT&T,

      "Babies, athletes, first responders, the elderly — a growing list of people could benefit from connected clothing, says AT none more so than AT&T corporate executives and their obese bonus cheques, and their personal investment bankers.

  • AT&T, which claims 'the stars have aligned' for this technology

    That's ... some really weird lingo. Any stars in particular or just those well disposed to aspiring phone monopolists?

    Yes, could be quite useful ..

    "Little Joey is late getting home from school, could you check in on his clothing sensors, dear?"

    "Right. Looks like he's getting a proper kicking by the neighborhood lads again. Probably shouldn't have gone with the clothes with that AT&T logo on 'em"

    • by KazW (1136177) *
      Someone, please mod this as funny, it made my day. :)
    • by blair1q (305137)

      I see this as a system ripe for such abuses.

      I mean, say someone hacks into your shorts and passes the IPv6 around to all the girls in your History class, who then conspire to stare at you whenever their iPhones signal them that you've sprouted wood...

      • YOU could be Anthony Weiner's press secretary. Honestly, it wasn't his fault, some script kiddy got into his pants.
  • bandwidth? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by prisma (1038806) on Friday November 04, 2011 @05:35PM (#37953160)
    I thought AT&T was complaining about saturated wireless phone bandwidth, to the point where purchasing T-Mobile was a supposed business neccessity. What would happen if tens of thousands of these "BioHarness" systems were connected through the network currently used by phones?
    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      Then AT&T would be making a killing selling all that bandwidth - er wait sorry what was the question?
    • by sznupi (719324)
      Most of the imagined usage scenarios seem like something which needs minuscule amounts of data - not much beyond "pinging" the network from time to time, to maintain connection. Probably in the daily range of how much one web page loading weights (yes, mostly in the other direction, but...)

      If they really tried, it could perhaps even mostly piggyback on some routine control channels (kinda like SMS does, "free" to the carriers; and like WAP did). Bandwidth doesn't seem like the biggest obstacle here, seaml
  • They'll take the shirt right off your back!

  • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Friday November 04, 2011 @05:46PM (#37953228) Homepage Journal

    On the plus side, this also implements a framework for health sensors.

    For example, the clothing could have an array of sensors which monitor various aspects of ones health - temperature, blood O2, and heart rate come to mind.

    This could be linked to alerts, such as "having a heart attack". Having more information will allow us to better tune our detection criteria, will allow us to detect problems more quickly, and administer emergency care quicker.

    Like any technology, can be used for good or bad.

    • by msauve (701917)
      "the clothing could have an array of sensors which monitor various aspects of ones health"

      The insurance companies would love that - think of the advancement of actuarial science! Real time rate adjustments!
      • Sorry, but our sensor recordings tell you have neglected your sports program lately, so unfortunately we cannot pay for your heart attack treatment ...
        ... no, we don't care if a week of no sports has much impact. Our insurance conditions clearly say you have to make sports at least two days a week, right there in page seven of the small-print. And no, the fact that you had the flu that week doesn't matter either.

  • This concept gives a whole new meaning to "Blue Screen of Death"... if your elderly parents are wearing a smart, web-enabled track suit that tells you their vital signs on your smart phone... who the heck wants to see their parents flatline in real time? And suppose the smart clothes crash or go offline? This seems to me to be akin to what we get from car alarms: I hear car alarms going off in parked cars all the time without ever checking to see if the car is actually being stolen. Its just security t
  • "For example, parents of babies could cover them in connected clothing to check on their children when they were out of the house ..."

    Don't worry, I'll get a text if he starts bleeding.

  • So if I get my undies in a bunch I have to call Banglore?
  • Could they connect that to an on-star like service? So if grandma gets lost or wanders off again, they could shut her down remotely.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    WTF. I am the father of a 12 month old. Since coming home from the hospital, we've checked his temperature a grand total of 1 time. (And it was normal.)

    For the vast majority of normal, healthy babies, why would you possibly want to be able to continuously monitor their vital signs?

  • by wonkavader (605434) on Friday November 04, 2011 @06:43PM (#37953560)

    We'll put on connected clothing that's just a bit behind the technology curve.

    For the first few years, it'll cover only the parts of our bodies which have the most money.

    We'll slowly get more material to cover the rest of our body, but only in exchange for tax breaks.

    Instead of changing our entire outfit, we'll replace the clothes in sections, and then only when that piece has a catastrophic wardrobe malfunction.

    And we'll keep the underwear on for more than 80 years.

  • lets not get into internet and tv ... now they want to monitor my baby for me? WTF? are they going to try and charge me 80 bucks? when my baby dies and suggest I buy a new one?

  • Hey Grandma! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by joocemann (1273720) on Friday November 04, 2011 @06:57PM (#37953642)

    In case you were wondering why you haven't seen me in a while in your end stages, you shouldn't worry. Instead of stopping by, or calling... I just checked a quick app on my iphone and it said you were still alive.

    Ahem...
    There is a point where technology passively degrades your true human values. We've had it for decades, and it will only become more of a burden to be aware of. In all cases, don't forget what really matters --- ease and efficiency may be the ends by which important things, like face to face interaction with loved ones, are lost. Always remember what matters most.

  • by josquin9 (458669) on Friday November 04, 2011 @06:58PM (#37953650)

    First, nowhere in the article was there any talk of mandating this clothing for anybody, let alone everybody. And while, yes, it could represent a revenue stream for AT&T, that doesn't keep this from being a very welcome development for a very large number of people. If your choices are between being confined to a nursing home so that you can be visually monitored 24/7, or being able to live a reasonably normal life monitored remotely through your clothing, most people I know would pick the latter.

    Eventually most people have to pick between the lesser of two evils in some context of their lives. This, to me, seems like it's setting the "lesser" bar considerably lower.

    But I know that, when you're young and invincible, it's difficult to appreciate that, despite your best efforts, your body will eventually start wearing out. In fact, most people in the West spend a lot more time in decline than in the ascent, and you've got about a one in three chance of spending at least 3 months of your life disabled in some way before the age of 65, and the likelihood of a permanent long-term disability to vision, hearing dexterity or mobility, let alone disorders like diabetes and cancer, increase every year.

    While the hope is that we can each put off needing this sort of technology as long as possible, I'd much rather it was well developed both technologically and sociologically/legally by the time I need it. We need to work on legal protections for privacy. Technology is going to keep removing the physical ones.

    If you feel like being cynical, that's your right. It's a free country. But I find it's best not to put too many statements out there for Karma to work with.

  • by blair1q (305137) on Friday November 04, 2011 @07:04PM (#37953708) Journal

    Next week: how to conceive, gestate, and birth a baby in a wi-fi ready uterus from GigundoCorp.

  • I am one of those type of people that assumes that anything that can have a backdoor, does. That being said, the idea of having clothes that can be used to track my actual body functions is just about as intrusive as I could have possibly imagined, short of direct neural interfacing.

    What other nifty purposes might these clothes be put to? Built-in lie detector interfaced w/law enforcement BlueTooth technology? Direct-connection Taser application w/specific nerve targeting? Remote passive-aggressive bio-feed

  • Why does it say "C4 - Hand Dry Only"?

We will have solar energy as soon as the utility companies solve one technical problem -- how to run a sunbeam through a meter.

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