Most consumers and businesses have not yet fully embraced wearable technology, however one notable exception is the healthcare industry, where wearable devices are rapidly gaining wide acceptance.
Switzerland-based Soreon Research estimates that the healthcare market for wearable technology was worth $2 billion in 2014. And with a predicted annual growth rate of 65%, they are forecasting market value to reach $40 billion by 2020.
Google is developing a contact lens with microscopic sensors to monitor the blood sugar levels of diabetes sufferers. The lens has a processor to analyse tear fluids, and an antenna to transmit the data to an external device.
Swiss biotech giant Novartis has teamed up with Google to license that technology for other ocular medical purposes, including a technique that helps presbyopia sufferers to automatically focus on objects.
Similar technology can track how often you blink and how long your eyes remain closed while driving, supporting an early warning system that discourages driving while drowsy.
Wearable devices represent an exciting opportunity for the healthcare industry. Empowered by the tools needed to track their own medical conditions, patients can take responsibility for their own health.
A decade ago, patients relied solely on a physician’s opinion for diagnosis and treatment. Now, patients can monitor their own health and make educated decisions for themselves. And rather than receiving infrequent updates about their patients’ health during infrequent check-ups, doctors can access a continuous stream of health related data.
In order to help users remain fit and healthy, companies like Nike, Fitbit, and Jawbone produce wearable devices that gather health and exercise related data to feed into fitness apps. They track and monitor sleep patterns, fitness levels and calorie consumption, while encouraging users to take control of their health by providing goals, challenges, and social interaction to make the experience more enjoyable.
The potential for wearable medical technology is endless. For example, surgeons wearing Google Glass can provide point-of-view demonstrations to students and other physicians while performing medical procedures. This helps doctors, even in remote locations, to learn and teach more effectively.
Wearable technology is transforming the way in which patients and doctors share data, interact, and make healthcare choices. This paradigm shift is leading to less frequent and shorter doctor visits, fewer unnecessary medical tests, and improved treatment success rates. Wearable devices are revolutionising the health industry, and the best is yet to come.