Self-Health Measurement Technology: The Next Generation Healthcare
Whatever advanced technology we see and use today is the output of somebody’s imagination from yesterday and may be what we imagine and sci-fi today will become the reality tomorrow. The healthcare sector is constantly transforming as the technology is blending in it. The wearable healthcare technology started the phenomenon of “self-health measurement” but as the technology is taking headway, the wearables are becoming more advanced and sophisticated. The wearables, from tracking the amount of calories burnt to the UV exposure level, all are becoming part of healthcare improvement, and there may come a time in future where in place of medicines we will prescribe apps and wearable devices. The wearable market is booming; it is high time for the new entrepreneurs to understand the impact of wearable technology on the healthcare market, to know the trends, find the opportunities and venture into it.
Wearable Technology, Digital Drugs, Internables, Biostamps, Wearable Telemedicine, Wearable Robots
At a Glance
• Why are people interested to use wearable devices?
• Features in an ideal wearable device
• Impact of wearables technology
• Wearable technology market
• Market funding
• Notable present day smart wearable products
• Points of consideration for the wearable healthcare startups
• Future trends in wearable technology
“The Measured Man” is what people like to call Dr. Larry Smarr. Dr. Smarr is the Director of the California Institute for Telecommunication and Information Technology (CALIT2). He is a perfect example of “Quantified Living” as he measures each and every aspect of his body from day-to-day analyzing body vitals to once-in-a week fecal examination to analyze the biochemical and microbial composition of feces. From the food that he eats to the sleep patterns, everything is measured and recorded. Bizarre but fascinating! All this is possible only with the self-health measurement technology coming into play.
The evolution of healthcare is taking place and thanks to the smart biosensing technology, from fitness watches to activity textiles and pain reducing electronic tattoos, all are influencing and aiding us to have a better life.
Why Are People Interested to Use Wearable Devices?
The popularity of wearable devices is increasing day-by-day amongst the population. Some of the reasons behind the rise are:
• Healthful lifestyle- The increasing availability of the wearable devices in the market are aiding the people in maintaining the fitness level by tracking the amount of calories burnt in a simple and easy manner.
• User-friendly- The most striking feature of the wearables is that they are user-friendly and simple, helping the user to keep a check on their health.
• Variety- In earlier times, very few physical assessments of the body like weight measurement, heart rate, blood pressure and pulse rate monitoring was possible. But with the increasing number of smart wearables entering the market, in near future, it might be possible to keep track of all the body vitals using a single wearable device.
• Motivational- The best part of wearables are that they make fitness maintenance fun! They motivate the users to do a little bit more to be healthy, and it’s fun to keep track of the activities instantly.
Features in an Ideal Wearable Device
Impact of Wearables Technology
The impact of wearables on the healthcare and other healthcare related industries is apparent. By the year 2020, the number of wearable device users is expected to increase to 3 billion. The wearables are becoming the “Next Big Trend” in the healthcare market, and as the new smart wearables are synching in smartphones the number of users are increasing.
The real-time health data monitoring will help the medical professionals to make an accurate clinical decision. The upgradation of wearable technology like data analysis tools and data sharing facilities can be a real help for the healthcare professionals.
The use of wearable technologies for the assistance in medical surgeries is under development.
The patients using wearable devices can have better control over their health condition. They can track their vital parameters, which can help them maintain a healthy lifestyle. The health data recorded by the devices can assist the health insurers in health cost management and also help the biopharmaceutical companies to speed up clinical trials.
Wearable Technology Market
The current global market for value of wearable health technology is $20 billion and forecasted to be more than $31.27 billion by the year 2020 at Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 17.8 %. Out of this, the US market counts for 40% of the total share. According to market statistics, more than 3.5 million activity tracking devices were sold in the U.S. in 2014.
The increasing demand for smart real time multiple activity trackers is acting as a value driver for the growth of wearable healthcare technology market. Some of the big players in the U.S. are Fitbit, Apple, Google, Jawbone and, Misfit, etc.
The market funding for the U.S. wearable healthcare technology startups was $4.3 billion in 2014, with the chances of growth to $56.5 billion by the year 2017.
Table1: Recent Wearable Technology Startups Market Funding
Topaz, The Flash Xiaomi, GGV Capital and Khosla Ventures
Augmedix $23 million Google Glass App Rock Health and Emergence Capital Partners
Lumobodytex $17.1 million Lumolift, Lumoback Wuxi, Healthcare Ventures, and Madrone Venture Group
Sproutling $11.1 million Biometric Smart Wear Founders Funds and Bessemer Venture Partners
Ybrain $4.14 million Y band Stone Bridge Capital
Atlas Wearables $1.82 million Atlas In-Q-Tel and JRG Capital
Source: CrunchBase, CB Insights
Notable Present Day Smart Wearable Products
- Apple Watch can track physical activity and heart rate. It can record daily workouts; it can give the status of overall health and summarize automatically on the dashboard.
- The Fitbit Surge, has an optical heart rate sensor to guide during runs and workouts and a built-in GPS. It tracks steps, calories spent and monitors how long and how well you sleep; it also wakes you up with a silent wake alarm.
- Jawbone-UP3 tracks your activity, exercise and overall calories burned throughout the day. It can track the calories consumed, upon logging your meals in food database and gives you food score. It has advanced sensors to track your sleep stages; it also provides suggestions to maximize your sleep and improve the quality of sleep.
- The iconic polo shirts have biosensing, silver fibers woven into the shirt which facilitates storage and manipulation of data on an app through a Smartphone. It can track the amount of calories burnt and the intensity of the movements during a workout.
- Sensoria Socks are made of conduction fibers, and function as “textile circuit boards” that can count yur steps, track mileage and speed of running and walking, and monitor the amount of calories burnt.
- Cur-Relief is like a futuristic Band-Aid; this wearable patch relieves pain at the push of a button. It provides instant pain relief to the area of the body on which this is placed.
- Valedo ® supports long-term back pain reduction. It is designed, especially for therapeutic exercises for improved movement awareness, fine muscle control, and spinal stability.
- Quell Relief are smart Bluetooth enabled knee braces providing pain relief for 40 hours before next charging.
- Google glass integrated with biosensors and LED system can monitor the glucose level in tears in case of diabetics.
- Leaf Healthcare Ulcer Sensor is a motion sensing device with an integrated alerting system to remind the user about doing body movements to prevent ulcer by avoiding constant inactivity.
- Lively Wearable by Great Call is a wearable device synched in with the Smartphone via Bluetooth, and tracks activity along with a special mobile emergency response features.
- Smart Stop by Chrono Therapeutics, a wearable device provides nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) with synched in support program for behavioral changes.
List of Top Healthcare Wearable Technology Based Companies
Fitbit $4.1 billion San Francisco based company manufactures wearable health tracking devices. Fitbit Tracker, Fitbit Charge, Fitbit Surge, Fitbit Aria and Fitbit blaze
Jawbone $3.3. billion Wearable Technology based company, focusing on the development of fitness wristbands. Jawbone UP, Jawbone UP2, and Jawbone 4
Misfit Wearables $270 million Health and fitness based company manufacture Sensor based trackable devices. Shine, Flash, and connected Homes
Basis Science $100 million approximately Wearable Technology based company manufactures activity tracking wristbands and online dashboards. Basis Peak, Basis B1 Band
Athos $51 million Smart textiles manufacturing company produces sensor built-in workout clothes to monitor the physical activities during work out. Athos Biometric Smart Clothing
Source: www.snyxius.com, Market Watch
Points of Consideration for the Wearable Healthcare Startups
Future of wearable healthcare technology is bright and in the coming time the scope of new business ventures in this field is growing. However, the startups venturing into this area should keep certain points in mind.
• Opportunistic Business Design- The entrepreneur should identify the gaps in the market and plan for new business accordingly.
• User-Centric Strategies- The user’s satisfaction is the ultimate goal for any business. The business strategies should be planned to keep the user’s point of view in mind, and the startups should invest time and money to strategize in accordance to the user feedback.
• Promise- The consumer’s trust over the products creates a brand. The startups venturing in the wearable healthcare technology should provide accurate and robust services with great user-friendly interface to substantiate the product promise.
Future Trends in Wearable Technology
The future of wearable technology looks very bright as all the new smart and sophisticated wearables got green signal from the consumers, and usage of such products are “in-vogue” right now. Technological innovation is moving at a fast pace, and this has lead to the development of several futuristic wearable projects.
- Wearable digital drug
The concept of digital drug is under fast development that is going to replace the usage of neuro drugs for neurostimulation and relaxation. The digital drug makers like Thync is developing wearable devices that can control the neuronal brain waves to generate relaxation and stimulation of the brain. Smart stop by Chrono therapeutics is developed to aid the smokers to quit smoking by providing nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).
The increasing adaptability of wearable devices by the users is helping in the development of innovations in the field of wearable technology. According to Ericsson Labs, the trend of “internables” will go viral. The internables are the futuristic wearables implanted inside the body for tracking the activities and monitoring the body vitals. The concept of “Talking Pills” and “Talking Bionics” may sound bizarre right now but research is under development and may be in near future they will be part of our daily life.
- Wearable telemedicine
The concept of telemedicine and wearable technology are “Instant Hits” amongst the consumers and with the progressing time, the unique ideas like wearable Telemedicine will become part of reality. The companies like Remote Medical Technologies (RMT) are coming up with wearable telemedicine devices for real-time image transfer. The iMedH2 Eye Candy and iMedH2 Ultrasound system are some of the wearable telemedicine products trending in the market.
The trend of wearable fitness bands is very new, but as the science and technology are advancing at lightning speed the wearables bands are becoming “Not so cool Anymore” and we reached one step ahead to the “World Biostamps”. The fashion of Biostamps is “in” now. A health technology startup MC10 is focusing on the manufacturing devices like Biostamps i.e. a thin rubbery patch integrated with biosensors that can monitor body vitals and UV exposure levels and transmit the data to the synched smartphone.
- Wearable robots
The next happening thing in the robotics field is the “Wearable Robots” designed for aiding locomotion in patients with paraplegia and other locomotion difficulties. The concept of wearable robots for the healthcare is not new, the first robotic exoskeleton “The Hardiman” was developed by General Electric in collaboration with the US Army in the year 1969. Nowadays a lot of modernization in the field of wearable robotics has taken place, and many unique wearable exoskeletons and exosuits are helping the users in locomotion. Ekso, Rewalk, Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL), Hercule V3 and Second Skin are some of the wearable robotics available on the market.
According to the market analytics, the market value of wearable robots was $16.5 million in the year 2014, and it is projected to reach $2.1 billion by 2021.
The face of healthcare is changing dynamically, and the wearable healthcare devices are part of the change. The wearable devices are motivating as well as creating alertness about healthy lifestyle among the population. The roots of wearable technology in the healthcare is deepening as started from tracking of the steps taken per day, we have come to the age of digital drugs, internables and Biostamps and scenario will keep on changing. The market for wearable healthcare technology is progressive giving way for new startups with potential ideas and it has a long journey ahead!
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