Wearable Health Devices (WHDs) are increasingly helping people to better monitor their health status both at an activity/fitness level for self-health tracking and at a medical level providing more data to clinicians with a potential for earlier diagnostic and guidance of treatment. The technology revolution in the miniaturization of electronic devices is enabling to design more reliable and adaptable wearables, contributing for a world-wide change in the health monitoring approach. In this paper we review important aspects in the WHDs area, listing the state-of-the-art of wearable vital signs sensing technologies plus their system architectures and specifications. A focus on vital signs acquired by WHDs is made: first a discussion about the most important vital signs for health assessment using WHDs is presented and then for each vital sign a description is made concerning its origin and effect on heath, monitoring needs, acquisition methods and WHDs and recent scientific developments on the area (electrocardiogram, heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, blood oxygen saturation, blood glucose, skin perspiration, capnography, body temperature, motion evaluation, cardiac implantable devices and ambient parameters). A general WHDs system architecture is presented based on the state-of-the-art. After a global review of WHDs, we zoom in into cardiovascular WHDs, analysing commercial devices and their applicability versus quality, extending this subject to smart t-shirts for medical purposes. Furthermore we present a resumed evolution of these devices based on the prototypes developed along the years. Finally we discuss likely market trends and future challenges for the emerging WHDs area.
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