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November 20, 2023

Wearable Devices Forecast Frailty-Linked Conditions in Elderly Adults

A recent peer-reviewed study suggests that wearable devices might offer insights into future frailty-related health risks among older adults by tracking their circadian rhythms. Conducted by Brigham and Women's Hospital researchers and involving 1,022 individuals aged 80 and above, the trials observed that these devices could potentially detect variations in daily rest-activity patterns that signaled future frailty, often over six years before its onset. Published in Nature Communications, the study showcased how disturbances in circadian rest-activity rhythms could predict the occurrence and progression of frailty over time.

While aging typically affects rest-activity patterns, the analysis of continuous rhythm data from these devices unveiled a connection between circadian disturbances and a heightened risk of developing and advancing frailty. Participants exhibiting disrupted rest-activity patterns faced an increased likelihood of frailty development, along with a hastened worsening of frailty symptoms such as reduced grip strength, declining body mass index, and fatigue.

Remarkably, variables like age, sex, sleep duration, sleep quality, and cardiovascular dysfunction didn't impact these findings. Ruixue Cai, the study's lead author, emphasized the potential of wearable devices in long-term health monitoring for older adults, highlighting the importance of early detection and intervention to support healthy aging.

The study also emphasized that disrupted rest-activity patterns could lead to more than just disturbed sleep; prior research linked these patterns to metabolic changes, neuron loss in the brain, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease. This connection underscores the overlap between the causes of frailty and cognitive impairment.

However, the authors cautioned that existing devices might be influenced by seasonal variations and environmental conditions, potentially causing misinterpretation of sleep-wake cycles. They stressed the need for further research with improved sleep assessment to establish a causal link between circadian disturbances and frailty. Nevertheless, they noted that combining circadian rest-activity data with clinical measures held promise for early disease diagnosis and treatment.

Co-author Peng Li highlighted the holistic potential of wearable technology in identifying disease indicators, suggesting that integrating circadian rest-activity data with other clinical measures could aid in the early identification and intervention in vulnerable populations.

Funded through grants from the National Institutes of Health, the BrightFocus Foundation Alzheimer's Research Program, and the Brigham Research Institute's Fund to Sustain Research Excellence Program, this research underscores the potential of wearable devices in understanding and addressing health risks among older adults.

Amazon's Project Kuiper Aces Broadband Connectivity Trials

Amazon revealed Thursday that initial testing of Project Kuiper has triumphed, propelling the endeavor toward providing high-speed internet to select users starting next year.

The Protoflight mission, launched from Cape Canaveral on Oct. 6, featured two test satellites-Kuipersat-1 and Kuipersat-2. Amazon plans to deploy 3,236 satellites into low Earth orbit by 2026 to cater to areas lacking internet access.

The Project Kuiper team successfully established connections with the prototypes and conducted various demonstrations to vet the technology. These included activities like logging onto Amazon Prime, streaming ultra-high definition 4K video from an Amazon Original movie, and executing the first two-way video call via Amazon Chime.

Amazon lauded the performance of every major system and subsystem on board the prototypes following the launch, citing nominal or superior functionality in flight computers, solar arrays, propulsion systems, and advanced radio frequency (RF) communications payloads.

Working within contact windows ranging from 30 to 120 seconds as the prototypes passed over the test site, the team showcased the feasibility of Project Kuiper's vision for seamless connectivity through a satellite constellation.

The company anticipates commencing full-scale deployment in the first half of 2024, with beta testing among chosen customers later in the year. Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology for Project Kuiper, expressed enthusiasm, emphasizing the rapid validation of their original vision and architecture.

Despite the achievements, Amazon acknowledges the challenges of scaling for mass production and pledges ongoing dedication to the project's success. Continuous testing in varied conditions remains on the agenda in the upcoming months.

In a similar vein, Elon Musk's SpaceX also aims to expand internet connectivity. The company recently marked its 80th launch of 2023 by deploying 23 Starlink satellites aboard the Falcon 9 rocket on Nov. 8.