As per recent Forbes report, 71% of 16-24-year-olds want wearable technology. Predictions for 2020 include a market value of $40 billion; a shipment of 400 million wearables. As per many reports last year alone, health monitoring and diagnostic wearables nabbed the majority share (78%) of the global wearable medical device market followed by the sports and fitness smart wearables.
In India, growing educated middle class are ready to drive much of the demand for smart wearable devices by being more health conscious and there is a growing adaptation among elderly educated personnel as well currently in maintaining independence of their own health monitoring.
In line with growing smartphone sales and internet penetration, recent studies have shown an increase in adoption of both free and paid health & fitness apps and devices in emerging countries like India.
The leading wearable medical device companies currently are Omron Healthcare, Basis Science, Sotera Wireless, Polar Electro, Zephyr Technology, Philips Healthcare, ResMed and Fitbit. And big electronic giants like Apple, Samsung, LG, Xiaomi, Micromax are yet to strike the chord in this health market vertical.
Many new startup companies are exploring various ways to embed various health IT features into wearable devices, so that patients may soon provide comprehensive information to doctors through devices such as sensor wrist bands, neck bands, smart watches that can measure and transmit biometric data.
Key drivers of Sales growth
Unlike in the past, the newer generation of these device manufacturers are paying special attention on data accuracy and the metrics they measured complying with multiple global health standard certifications, which is primarily contributing to the recent sales growth by patients and health care providers.
Health and fitness euphoria among young generations also playing a big contribution for over-tracking their health as we got a chance for that for the first time in history. Eventually, by the time the technology behind them gets better, we should get to the stage of meaningful use as well.
Mass production of these wearables is kicking off in meeting strong demand especially from new sales territories in emerging countries, this market is expected to continue growing, devices will get intuitive, thinner and lighter, get cheaper and more comfortable.
What I can measure with current smart medical wearables Daily activities (steps, calories, distance)
Blood oxygen levels
Blood glucose levels
Baby and fetal monitors
Blood alcohol content
Next generation smart medical wearables currently in pipeline:
Contact Lens: Google has been granted a patent recently for a contact lens with an embedded chip, which may allow people with diabetes to easily measure glucose levels.
Smart Clothing: The fashion industry grabbing this opportunity and getting health tracking close to their customers. Examples include Hexoskin and MC10. Both companies are working on different clothes and sensors that can be included in clothes.
Smart Implants: Devices implanted into our body or just under the skin. There are people already having such RFID implants with which they can open up a car, a smartphone or even the garage door.
Medical procedures centric wearables: Tiny devices embedded with sensors that can be swallowed could track digestion and the absorption of drugs supporting GI procedures like Colonoscopy etc. Skin monitoring oriented: sensor embedded mattress, pillows, braces etc supporting long term bedridden patients suffering from stroke and injuries.
Unlike in the West, corporate health care systems and hospitals in India are keen on wearable devices, since the high volume of data generated by such devices may lead to new ways of identifying disease symptoms, measuring wellness and discovering nonconventional vital signs. Additionally, individual doctors are also gearing up to brace the gadgets and recommending to patients for efficient comprehensive self-monitoring especially in remote and home health care settings. Emerging educated middle class who are constantly bracing new technologies are also opting for smart medical wearables usage for effective preventive care.