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Google's Health Wristband Keeps Close Eye on Patients

Fitness trackers are typically for people who want to get in shape, with few new devices that help people battling illness. Google wants to change that with a new health-tracking wristband for patients that transmits real-time information to their doctors about their vitals.

The device will measure things like pulse, heart rhythm and skin temperature, as well as external factors like noise levels and sun exposure. All of the information can be sent to doctors minute-by-minute, giving them real-time updates on a patient's condition.

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Developed by the company's Google X research division, the wristband will be used only by doctors and patients; it won't be available for consumers to buy. Andy Conrad, head of Google's life sciences division, told Bloomberg that Google intends for the device to be prescribed to patients as needed and to be used in clinical trials.

Google X works on big projects that could have long-term payoffs, such as self-driving cars. While Google already has wearable technology containing health-tracking features, like the heart rate monitors in Android Wear devices, this wristband could potentially help people who require constant medical attention by making it easier for doctors to collect and analyze information without relying as much on the patient.

According to Bloomberg, down the line, Conrad would like to see the wristband be used as a prevention device, with people wearing it to catch the early signs of diseases. In the meantime, Google will test the wristband's accuracy and seek regulatory approval for the device in the United States and Europe. Trials of the device will begin over the summer.

Valentina Palladino is a senior writer for Tom's Guide. Follow her at @valentinalucia. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide and on Facebook.