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Brief Published: 6 Feb 2015

Embrace: Life-Saving Smartwatch

Embrace smart watch

Embrace is a smartwatch designed to help people with epilepsy by using the skin's electrical signals to detect epileptic seizures. The potentially life-saving device has been developed by Empatica, a US and Italy-based computing start-up that focuses on analysing human data.

Alongside tracking activity and sleep, Embrace measures electrical signals on the skin's surface. For most users, this offers insights into their physical activity, stress and even arousal levels – but sudden, steep signal spikes can indicate the onset of a dangerous seizure. If detected, the device automatically sends an alert to a friend or loved one with the user's location.

People who do not suffer from epilepsy can also use Embrace, which comes with two apps. Empatica Mate provides sleep and activity tracking with customisable stress alerts, while Empatica Alert is programmed to recognise signs of a seizure. Priced at $199, shipping is expected to begin in October 2015.

The wearable's chic design features a customisable leather strap and a slim, polished-metal display. Speaking to US magazine Fast Company, Empatica co-founder Matteo Lai said: "Why do people who are sick have to have ugly devices, while the people who are healthy get beautiful devices that aren't very useful?"

Smart sensors are paving the way for a new wave of mood-reading machines. Devices such as Olive offer consumers a deeper insight into their daily lives, while health-tracking products are enabling patients to take a data-led approach to personal wellness. See Wired Health 2014 for more.