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Healthcare // Mobile & Wireless
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1/12/2016
07:06 AM
Dawn Kawamoto
Dawn Kawamoto
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10 Medical-Device Wearables To Improve Patients' Lives

Wearable medical devices have expanded from hearing aids to everything from heartbeat monitors to pain management. Here are 10 medical wearables worth watching.
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Wearable mask helps move voluntary muscles that have degraded due to medical ailments. 
(Image: Kenji Suzuki via Flickr.com)

Wearable mask helps move voluntary muscles that have degraded due to medical ailments.

(Image: Kenji Suzuki via Flickr.com)

Back in 1938, Chicago electronics manufacturer Aurex Corp. developed the first wearable hearing aid, marking one of the earliest steps into what has become the fast-growing medical device wearables industry.

The wearables industry, which includes medical devices, fitness and health gadgets, and infotainment devices like virtual reality gamer goggles and smartwatches primarily used for communication, is expected to grow to 170 million unit shipments this year, driving $20 billion in global manufacturer sales, said Shane Walker, principal analyst of digital health and wearable technologies at research firm IHS.

That's up 27% in unit shipments and a whopping 70% increase in revenue over last year, according to Walker. And the wearable medical device market is expected to contribute 30% of that revenue this year.

Between now and 2019, the medical-device wearables market is expected to increase revenue 8% annually and eventually see its slice of the ever-increasing wearables market shrink to 20% by 2019. While demand for medical-device wearables will still be persistent over the coming years, much of the money will be flowing to the infotainment wearables market. Smartwatches, for example, were the key driver of the 70% revenue growth the industry is expected to capture this year.

[Samsung, Huawei, HTC Show Off Smartwatches At CES.]

Medical-device wearables tend to target one of the four most prevalent chronic illnesses: congestive heart failure, diabetes, hypertension, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. For example, accurate glucose monitoring is not readily available in smartwatches today, but there are companies working to improve it, Walker said.

He added that wearable medical devices are becoming popular as the healthcare industry and consumers find early disease warnings hold the potential for reducing costly stays in the hospital. Walker pointed to the 2017 time frame for the electronic health records program, otherwise known as Meaningful Use, to kick in and likely "provide another source of momentum for the (medical-device wearables) category."

One of the greatest challenges for these wearable medical devices is receiving approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

"If it's a brand new device and addresses something that has never been done before, and it makes claims it will work, then it will take time to get FDA approval," Walker said. "Getting a medical device approved is not easy and it's expensive to get approved by the FDA."

Here's a look at 10 wearable medical devices in various stages of FDA approval that are worth keeping an eye on.

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Dawn Kawamoto is a freelance writer and editor. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's News.com, TheStreet.com, AOL's DailyFinance, and The ... View Full Bio

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impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Ninja
1/22/2016 | 7:17:44 PM
Wear our health

I am especially excited about the medical wearables I think they have the opportunity to save lives and improve the quality of life for many of those that are suffering from long term chronic diseases. The challenge will be availability and whether insurance covers these devices and Medicare includes them in their plans, without that aspect their utility will be only available to those that are wealthy enough to buy and maintain these devices.

Gigi3
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Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
1/18/2016 | 6:45:46 AM
Re: First
"Yes, I'd agree that we need more wearables for any kind of decease. Hopefully soon, we're gonna have something like the Star Trek's medical tricorder, to monitor or check any symptom, at anytime."

Mak63, you are right and expecting more on coming days. Now this domain gained some momentum after Apple announced about their wearable devices.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
1/15/2016 | 5:34:44 PM
Re: First
Yes, I'd agree that we need more wearables for any kind of decease. Hopefully soon, we're gonna have something like the Star Trek's medical tricorder, to monitor or check any symptom, at anytime.
Gigi3
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Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
1/15/2016 | 4:14:18 AM
Wearable Medical devices
After reading the article; i realize that we all are working & earning to a certain age, for meeting our old age medical expenses. Some of the devices are too god, but when it will be get productized and whether it can be affordable to common peoples etc are big questions.
Gigi3
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Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
1/15/2016 | 4:06:16 AM
Re: First
"Interesting article -- good survey. Years ago nobody wanted to wear anything like this -- now they are becoming "cool" ! Anything that sticks on the skin, as a sensor, giving readings, will have the most functionality."

Jastroff, you are right to an extent. The fact is these types of life style diseases are not so common in older days. Most of them have to do things physically and hence body is more exerted to physical activities. Now a day's life styles are changed and we all have a sedentary life style; which causing all such life style diseases. 
Gigi3
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Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
1/15/2016 | 4:01:26 AM
Re: First
"I wish they were more devices for asthma and COPD, like they are for diabetes. The WristOx2 is a step in the right direction, but not barely enough."

Mak63, I wish to have more devices to monitor hear diseases and Blood pressure to avoid stroke and fainting peoples, especially when they are away from dear and near ones. 
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
1/14/2016 | 10:45:21 AM
Re: First
Interesting article -- good survey. Years ago nobody wanted to wear anything like this -- now they are becoming "cool" ! Anything that sticks on the skin, as a sensor, giving readings, will have the most functionality.
mak63
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0%
mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
1/14/2016 | 1:17:17 AM
First
I wish they were more devices for asthma and COPD, like they are for diabetes. The WristOx2 is a step in the right direction, but not barely enough.
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