London, Mar 30 : Scientists in the US have developed a wrist device that could help save lives of thousands of elderly people as well as allow bosses to spy on their employees.
The device, called the BT2, monitors vital signs such as heart rate and body temperature, and wirelessly transmits the data to a computer, triggering an alarm if the system detects the wearer is in trouble.
Beside heartbeat and temperature, the device measures the amount of sweat on the wrist and can detect how much the body is moving.
According to the inventors, the gadget could be used to monitor emergency service workers in dangerous situations.
And some critics are claiming that the device could be adapted to work as a 'spy in the office', helping bosses make sure their workers are being productive.
The device will shortly go on sale in the UK and it is believed that the monitor will sell for around 500 pounds a unit.
Using a tiny infrared beam, the watch scans the skin surface and calculates both heart rate and how regularly the heart is beating.
Electrical conductors analyse sweat levels and a thermometer measures body temperature. Using a Bluetooth wireless connection, the gadget delivers data to a computer. The system then alerts a carer to potential problems such as a sudden change in the heartbeat.
The in-built movement detector can avoid false alarms by working out, for example, that a fast heartbeat is due to the wearer running.
"We are primarily seeing this as something that can help in care - for example, residential care - but also with a person who wants to help care for a loved one from a distance," the Scotsman quoted Company spokesman Ben Vaughan, as saying.
"And there are a series of other uses. We have had some interest from mining companies who might want it so that they can check on the welfare of their employees while they are down shafts.
"We have had interest in it being used to help check whether drivers are alert enough to be at the wheel," he added.
However, David Scott, professor of geriatric medicine at Glasgow University, was sceptical about the use of the wristband.
"It's an interesting and very clever device, but even when sitting at rest, your heartbeat goes up and down all the time," Scott said.
"You might have been excited after chatting to your grandchildren, your favourite team might have won, or you might be concerned about something," he added.