Wearable technology and medical devices have many prominent synergies. Electronic devices on the body are perfectly placed for sensors to collect data relevant to healthcare, with communication options opening the gateway to digital health data. Common sensor options within wearable devices include options for motion (e.g. for fall detection or activity characterisation), heart rate monitoring (for various cardiac metrics), through to other less common choices such as determining body temperature, detecting specific chemical analytes or assessing physiological responses to specific stimuli. Wearables can also play their part in the other half of a feedback loop; whether this be in delivering insulin to a type one diabetic, alerting the user at appropriate times to take medication, or directly applying treatment such as electrical stimulation.
IDTechEx’s most recent report on the industry, “Wearable Technology Forecasts 2019-2029”, includes historic data and ten year market forecasts for 48 different wearable technology product types, of which 20 are types of wearable medical device. These products increased their combined annual revenue by $10bn a year in the period from 2010 to 2019, and make up around a third of all of the wearable device revenue in 2019.
So, if the future of wearable is medical, then how much of the future of medical is wearable? Wearable devices may provide a convenient, ambulatory option for monitoring particular conditions over a period of time, and have found a particular home where the sensor device requires contact with the body. However, many medical futurists will point to potential in remote monitoring of several medical conditions. Whilst the origins of this may be rooted in science fiction, there have been many examples of companies pushing towards remote monitoring of different health conditions, and dedicated funding for such projects from some technology companies.
For the full report and additional information around the subject, click here.