Wearable technology has advanced at an astonishing pace over recent years. Ranging from smart watches and conductive fabrics, wearable tech devices have become more like science-fiction devices than everyday items. But they come with their own set of challenges, including special substrates for power scavenging, novel connectivity solutions, flexibility management and durability management.
Consumer electronics come with high price tags and generate vast quantities of electronic waste, but the industry has grand plans for its future growth.
Health-tracking wearables are one of the fastest-growing segments, from novelty toothbrushes to medically certified devices that monitor blood pressure, glucose levels and cardiac function.
Fitness trackers such as Fitbit’s line of products and Garmin’s Vivoactive smartwatches gather data about an individual’s physical activities using sensors such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, and heart rate monitors, then transmit it back to either their phone app or computer for storage and analysis.
Since wearable technology is growing increasingly popular, many companies are capitalizing on it to shape the quantified-self movement and promote healthy lifestyles. Wearables also allow clinicians and other healthcare providers to remotely monitor patients, identify patterns and intervene instantly as well as deliver drugs or treatments through skin, providing an attractive alternative to intravenous therapy.
Many wearable devices are intended to enhance health and fitness, but some companies are pushing this technology even further by developing devices to monitor and treat medical problems such as diabetes. One such artificial pancreas device tracks blood sugar levels automatically before automatically dispensing insulin as necessary.
Philips wearable biosensor is another medical application which monitors activity to reduce patient deterioration into preventable cardiac or respiratory arrest, and increase medical staff efficiency by decreasing monitoring time per patient.
Wearable technology also comes in the form of intelligent buttons that connect to your smartphone and display useful information, while acting as invisible guides by vibrating if you are following directions correctly or are in danger. Furthermore, certain wearables have the capability of tracking down lost phones or keys when lost which can come in very handy when timed travel needs are tight and you need them now!
As opposed to smartwatches which require screens and processors to function, these devices contain electronics in the form of a patch that can be applied directly to skin. They offer various applications including monitoring glucose levels in diabetic patients, tracking hydration levels and detecting UV exposure.
These patches also offer several other advantages over smartwatches, including being easily repositioned without needing new batteries or attachment systems – making them cheaper as well.
Though wearables may not be fashionable, their use for both personal and professional purposes will continue to expand rapidly. Companies can prepare for this trend by convening a task force of tech-savvy employees to discuss any potential issues and draft policies on how they’ll address them – this ensures the technology can be adopted quickly and smoothly by users. In addition, manufacturers should look at ways to enhance sustainability of their products through reuse/trade-in programs as part of this transition period.
Medical wearable devices cover an expansive spectrum, from quirky gadgets that track steps or sleep cycles to high-tech solutions designed to monitor blood sugar, heart rate and oxygen saturation levels. There have even been companies who have built multibillion dollar businesses on electronic glucose monitors while others develop devices to aid fertility, improve sleep or manage moods.
Many in the industry are developing sensors that can be embedded directly into skin. For instance, UCSD engineers have created a flexible skin patch capable of monitoring heart rate and caloric intake.
As the market advances, companies must develop strategies for effectively managing and interpreting the vast amounts of data generated by connected devices. Furthermore, legal implications must also be considered. Stay up-to-date by subscribing to Insider Intelligence for updates on this frontier technology. Sign up here now.