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The number of tools and gadgets aimed at health has skyrocketed in the past few years. That technology can be a big help to those looking to improve their health, but there’s a danger in taking things too far, in the view of one biotechnology leader.

“We should appreciate the tools we have, but we should control them, not the other way around,” said Leen Kawas, a clinical pharmacist and the founder and CEO of M3 Biotechnology.

The venue for Kawas’ comment was an interesting one: She was speaking from the first-ever health technology stage at the GeekWire Summit, on a panel about the benefits of health tech when it comes to human longevity.

But Kawas said she felt the need to give some perspective on the limits and dangers of consumer-facing health and wellness technology, like Fitbits. Kawas said the technology should be part of a comprehensive way of looking at health, not a do-or-die tool that takes over someone’s behavior.

“There’s a lot of limitation with these applications, the sensors. It gives you a good idea,” she said, “but if you’re off by two or three, don’t get too obsessed about it.”

T.A. McCann, the managing partner of Pioneer Square Labs and host of the podcast How to Live to 200, agreed with the sentiment. “It’s directional, not directive,” he said: In other words, it’s an invitation to look closer, not a blaring alarm.

McCann said he pays particular attention to his waking resting heart rate, which he measures with a wellness app. The rate is normally in the low 50’s, he said, so when it changes he pays special attention.

“So if its at 60, or 65, 70, there’s something going on in my body and I know that. And I then can examine what is going on in my body,” McCann said.

And, like any technology, sometimes apps and wearables will malfunction.

“Check the sensor. It might not be working,” Kawas said.

Watch the full panel discussion in the video above and check out all our coverage from the 2018 GeekWire Summit.

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