Wearables have come a long way from being merely entertaining to bringing in tangible health benefits, from being the “sports-only” category to personal smart gear. Use of wearable technology has more than tripled in the last four years and now wearables stand in one row with other essential things some people can’t leave their homes without, such as a wallet, a smartphone, headphones or keys.
Wearable technologies offer a convenient means of monitoring many physiological features, and the current healthcare industry couldn`t but leverage numerous possibilities of wearables. Below, we have gathered several examples of how wearable devices have been successfully integrated into healthcare and help to improve people’s lives.
Wearable Fitness Trackers
Some of the simplest and most original forms of wearable technology, wearable fitness trackers, are wristbands equipped with sensors to keep track of the user’s physical activity and thus achieve specific fitness goals such as meeting a basic regular exercise activity goal, burning a specific number of calories in the day, and even drinking a set number of glasses of water.
Fitness trackers worn by individuals can also help in research studies being conducted on a larger number of people. The number of individuals who can be monitored in a laboratory is limited, but with the help of wearable fitness trackers the researchers can study the data collected for a much larger target group.
Smart Health Watches
Smartwatches is a mixture of smartphones and fitness trackers. They allow users to perform tasks they normally do on their phones — read notifications, send simple messages, make phone calls — while also offering some of the exercise- and health-tracking benefits of fitness trackers.
Great results have been achieved by Apple with its AppleWatch : in 2007 they launched the Apple Heart Study app to monitor users’ heart rhythms and alert those who are experiencing atrial fibrillation. Also they have recently released the “Movement Disorder API” to help researchers gather new insights into Parkinson’s disease.
Wearable ECG Monitors
Wearable ECG monitors are on the cutting edge of consumer electronics, and what sets these monitors apart from some smartwatches, is their ability to measure electrocardiograms, or ECGs.
We could draw the example of Withings Move ECG, that is an activity watch and ECG monitor combo, allowing the wearer to measure an electrocardiogram and send the reading to the user’s doctor, as well as detect atrial fibrillation. This device is also able to track pace, distance, and elevation, as well as has automatic tracking for walking, running, swimming, and biking.
Wearable Blood Pressure Monitors
Omron Healthcare launched HeartGuide in 2019, the first wearable blood pressure monitor. Though it might look like a typical smartwatch, HeartGuide is an oscillometric blood pressure monitor that can measure blood pressure and daily activity – like steps taken, distance travelled, and calories burned.
Biosensors are up and coming wearable medical devices that are radically different from wrist trackers and smartwatches.
For instance, a group of researchers have recently developed a waterproof, bandage-like sweat sensor that tells the wearer when to replenish electrolytes and fluids. Or we could draw the example of Philips here, that has recently introduced a wearable self-adhesive biosensor that automatically and continuously measures vital signs, body posture and step count, and detects falls.
Wearable have become extremely popular and are not going to lose its position. According to Business Insider Intelligence research, the total installed base of fitness tracker and health-based wearables will grow at an annualized rate of 10% and only in US will surpass 120 million by 2023.
As you can see the wearable healthcare technology market is surging, and its maturation will put more wearable technology in the hands of consumers. And we are eager to see what new and useful devices will soon appear in the market.