Wearable Technology (Focus in Healthcare track #TiEcon 2014)


Google and Apple have both fueled an ecosystem of apps for smartphones and tablets. Now Google has unveiled new software tools to help developers make apps for wearable devices.  So how big is the market potential for wearable devices?  According to Business Intelligence Research, wearables will transform the way we interact with our devices and they will become indispensable for monitoring body’s vital signs.  According to their conservative forecast, this may be a $12 Billion market.  Other estimates forecast the market for wearable computers to reach $20 billion in sales by 2016.

The vision of wearable sector is to interweave technology into everyday aspects of life.  Besides sports, athletics, and chronic disease monitoring, of particular interest is also the aging market.  Consider the US population demographics.  An American turns 50, every 7 seconds.  More people were 65+ in 2010 than in any previous censors.  As people age, there is greater likelihood of chronic diseases, falling, forgetting, medical adherence challenges and so on.  Also people prefer to live independently.  Wearable devices however, may not be panacea, if not designed and developed appropriately.  There are many challenges to developing these products.  Here is a link to my earlier post on “Challenges & Opportunities in Developing Products for Older Adults” – http://bit.ly/MqiC9E .

Healthcare system is undergoing a massive transformation.  Engaged consumers and better informed healthcare personnel will be an integral part of the new healthcare system.  Wearable computing devices will become absolutely necessary aspect of the changing healthcare landscape.  At Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, wearables was one of the hottest sector.  While Fitbit, Basis, Jawbone, Pebble smart watches and Google Glass have been in the news, there are many werable devices in various stages of commercialization.  Innovators are working on putting sensors in socks, on wrists, in jewelry, even in a bra.  A new bra from a Japanese company Ravijour unhooks when you are in love (the embedded sensor analyzes the heart rate and springs open at the right moment).  But more importantly, a healthtech company, First Warning Systems, is getting ready to go into clinical trials with its wearable bra, designed to spot early signs of breast cancer.   

Indeed the future of wearable technology is a wide open landscape right now and much will be painted on it.  Healthcare track at TiEcon 2014 on May, 17 will focus on the future of wearable devices.  Register at www.tiecon.org.  Early bird price is available till midnight of March 10.

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