Our wrists are under siege.
By the end of 2015, approximately 84 million wearable devices – from fitness trackers to smart watches and connected bracelets – were sold globally. Gartner predicts that these products will exceed 500 million shipments by 2020 and almost two in five of us will use a wearable by 2019.
Wearables are getting serious
Judging by this year’s Consumer Electronics Show and Healthcare IT trade-show, HIMSS, it’s clear that wearables are making their way into the healthcare space.
Quell, for example, is an FDA-approved smart cuff that wraps around the leg to relieve pain related to diabetes, fibromyalgia and sciatica. It’s available on Amazon. Another offering is the non-invasive, wrist-worn, blood pressure monitor known as the Pulsewave® Health Monitor. Also FDA-approved, it’s very nearly as accurate as an intra-arterial blood pressure catheter. Philips’ Health Watch is also listed as a medical device – it’s designed to be part of an app-based personal health program with the aim of helping people make healthy lifestyle choices and supporting those at risk in managing their own health.
These devices and others like them are great examples of the first wave of what should be considered the next phase of smart devices – the serious, scientifically proven wearables that can make a real difference in people’s health. For the moment however, these next-gen, medical-grade, connected health devices for clinical use are few and far between in a sea of dozens of more simplistic wearables that are mainly aimed at tracking the fitness of younger generations. And the real challenge remains: when will the medical community begin to embrace wearables and connect these devices to patient care?