Smartwatches may be cool, but wearable health monitoring devices could save your life. These gadgets now run the gamut in goals, from managing chronic disease to optimizing fitness programs.
Some devices allow medical providers to monitor a patient's disorder, in the hopes that doctors can intervene earlier and patients can avoid complications. Other devices can detect whether an elderly patient has taken a fall, or remind patients it's time to take their medications. Still other wearables allow consumers to keep tabs on their own health and fitness, helping them lose weight or sleep better.
ABI Research last year estimated that the market for wearable health-related devices--ranging from heart monitors to biosensors that read body temperature and motion--will reach more than 100 million device sales annually by 2016. The market for wearable sports and fitness-related monitoring devices is growing, too, projected to reach 80 million device sales by 2016.
Wearable devices provide output and connect to the Web in various ways. Some enable wearers to monitor their own readings using a mobile phone and a special website. Others allow data to be downloaded and viewed by third parties such as healthcare managers, or clinicians who are watching for disturbing trends that merit medical intervention. Some devices simply encourage wearers to share their fitness progress with work-out buddies and friends via social media sites. Thanks in part to trends such as wearable devices, the overall mobile health market is growing substantially. Research and analysis firm GlobalData expects the market to grow in value from an estimated $0.5 billion in 2010 to over $8 billion by 2018, significantly revolutionizing healthcare delivery and management.
Take a look at the range of devices in use now, from hospital settings to homes.