The wearable technology market has been skyrocketing in recent years. A recent study has estimated that 20% of American adults are wearing a device that collects data on anything from exercise and sleep habits to heart rate and blood pressure. The wide adoption has led to excitement about a potentially healthier population in the coming years. In addition to wellness, there are millions of sick patients that can benefit directly from wearables that are monitoring data at every breath, bead of sweat, or chemical change in the body. In many cases the reaction to these alterations can mean life or death.
The holy grail of wellness monitoring is to seamlessly measure and analyze four main items: air quality, physical activity, food choices and portion sizes, and stress levels—all of which are monitored and presented to the user in a way that motivates and sustains behavior change without the intervention of a caregiver. Experts believe we are within 1 year of developing such for many of these areas, and are approaching this goal at exponential speed.
Wearable innovation in recent years has intensified in a variety of patient populations as well. Perhaps the most attractive market has been diabetes. Monitoring glucose levels has traditionally required periodic testing with needles. The sporadic testing can only account for a few moments during the day and can lead to missed chances to optimize insulin levels, resulting in diabetic shock. Needle-free glucose monitoring would allow a device to be worn that can constantly monitor and alert patients as well as doctors immediately if a dangerous situation arises. Products are in development that use biosensors on the skin to detect glucose level as well as “smart” contact lenses that can detect sugar levels via tears with a tiny antenna. In addition to glucose monitoring, there are devices in development that resemble a bandage that can use sweat molecules to diagnose many of the same things that a blood test can- such as pregnancy, hypertension, cortisol levels, hydration- and can notify patients and doctors immediately if abnormalities are found.
What makes these technologies game changing are not just the devices, but also the “frictionless” platforms that can allow patients to make the right choices without the help of a caregiver, but also to avoid manually uploading the data and delivering the information to a doctor for analysis. Due to the advent of health data hubs, improved security, and state-of-the-art software analysis programs, experts predict a surge of vital medical data in 2016 that can be delivered directly and analyzed accurately in enough time for patients to modify their behavior, and for caregivers to react and save more lives than ever before.
Where Are They Now
Wearable usage continues to increase with the development of new technologies. Continuous monitoring has become a staple in the world of data collecting devices. The market for frictionless remote monitoring devices is expected to see double digit growth in the forecast period 2015-2025.