Consumers are adopting wearables at a fast pace, with improving health as their primary motivator for buying devices, according to the 2016 Pricewaterhouse Cooper Consumer Intelligence Series that focuses on wearables. The study, which surveyed 1,000 consumers in March 2016, found that health organizations, including doctors, hospitals and health insurance companies, are the most trusted when referring wearables to their customers. This provides a big opportunity for healthcare organizations to partner with technology companies to make unique connections with consumers.
The wearable technology market grew 29% in 2016, with 101.9 million units sold, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker. The organization projects that the wearable market will reach more than 213 billion units sold by 2020. The most popular units continue to be wristbands and watch-like devices, though clothing and eyewear are gaining traction.
"Watches and bands are and always will be popular, but the market will clearly benefit from the emergence of additional form factors, like clothing and eyewear, that will deliver new capabilities and experiences,” says Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. “Eyewear has a clear focus on the enterprise as it stands to complement or replace existing computing devices, particularly for workers in the field or on the factory floor. Meanwhile, clothing will take aim at the consumer, offering the ability to capture new forms of descriptive and prescriptive data."
Wearables continue to evolve as virtual reality applications provide experience-based applications for clinicians and patients. Technology companies such as Samsung Electronics are leading the way in using wearables to find healthcare solutions. The company announced at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show that it is switching its focus from robots to wearable healthcare technology. The virtual reality market is predicted to increase eight times by 2020, with healthcare seeing the biggest gains, according to the Virtual Reality Market Hardware Global Analysis released in January 2017.
The clinical application of wearable technology is evolving, as technology companies partner with healthcare organizations with the goal of solving some of healthcare’s biggest problems. Here are some of the latest healthcare wearable technology aimed to help patients and clinicians make better decisions.
The LIVE by EarlySense is a remote monitoring device that monitors sleep and vital statistics for bedridden patients. The piezoelectric sensor disk plugs into an outlet and slides under a patient’s mattress. Real time patient vitals can be monitored through a mobile application, which can be supervised by caregivers and clinicians. The device, which was only available in hospitals, was made available to consumers in January 2017. Clinical studies found that the device is 92.5% accurate when detecting sleep patterns, heart rate, breathing, movement, and other potential stressors. A monthly subscription is required to monitor the device.