One in five American adults already own a wearable device, according to PwC’s Consumer Intelligence Series – “The Wearable Future report”, and over 40% of U.S. consumers are interested in buying a smart watch, according to a “Statista” report from 2013. Indeed, most chances are, that if your reading this article, you already own such a device, or at least seriously considering buying one.
Indeed, wearable devices are ever more present in our daily lives. Anything from watches, clips, glasses, shirts, patches and many other accessories, all available from virtually any local electronics dealer. This exponential growth is largely thanks to the availability of smaller and smaller components; better sensors, faster connectivity and cloud services, not to mention the huge impact social media had on our needs and wants as consumers, for on the go devices. All of these elements, or simply put, the combination of available technologies and consumer demands, are fuelling global market growth of wearable technologies.
However, the biggest question remains, how would we use these devices? Are they merely an extension of our mobile phones? Just another way for poking, liking, updating our social networks, accessing information and consuming content? Or could they become much more than just geeky accessories? Could they possibly replace our physicians, or at least substantially add value to our life expectancy and quality?
Here at Tamooz , we think they definitely might, and faster than expected. Noticeably, wearable health & fitness devices have been very successful in the US, gaining relatively fast traction. In the wellness domain, there are many apps available for monitoring your weekly exercise routine, running distances etc. A great example coming to mind would be the “fit bit”, a very successful wearable activity tracking device. However its benefits still remain somewhat basic, and actually don’t add much value to the consumer’s health. If anything, they provide support & encouragement.
A more practical example for a medical wearable device, whose market is expected to reach almost 1 billion by the end of this year, would be that of a remote cardiac monitoring device, such as the Quardio Core , a wireless electrocardiogram monitor designed to improve detection and management of cardiac conditions. Still, according to Dr. Chowdhury , CEO of Nemaura Medical , “most devices currently provide information that is not of great use from a clinical health perspective. If anything, they provide a source of motivation. That’s all…”
However, Dr. Chowdhury thinks he will help change this reality sooner than later, with the help of a very small wearable patch (1mm thick), currently under development, called the “Nemaura sugar BEAT, a non-invasive continuous glucose monitoring solution aiming to revolutionize continuous blood sugar monitoring. It works by painlessly extracting interstitial fluid from just beneath the skin into the sensor-patch. The device then detects and records glucose levels within the patch, up to four times per hour, and this data is continuously streamed to the mobile phone application. Indeed, such wearable devices, as well as the global trend of “the internet of things”, are slowly but surely changing the face of the health industry as we know it. Once very much a closed environment comprising of big main traditional players such as pharma companies, government regulators, insurers and other serving enterprises, now it’s evolving to a much more modular and consumer oriented market.
However change doesn’t come without barriers. Although over 80% of consumers said “an important benefit of wearable technology is its potential to make health care more convenient”, still, consumers are not willing to pay much for these items, need to be incentivized to gain traction, want something easy to use, and most importantly, are afraid to share their personal health data with anyone but their relevant doctors. Just imagine how frustrating it would be to find all of your own personal medical records publicly on display or shared on your social networks, just because your smart watch was connected to Facebook.
Once these issues are clearly tackled, as the delicate balance of value to the consumers verses costs/hassles is effectively resolved, we will see an overwhelming transformation, both as individuals, monitoring our health, drug intake etc, and as a society, benefiting from big data statistics, resulting in better, faster research and developments. As Vaughn Kauffman, principal at PwC Health Industries said, “For wearables to help shape the New Health Economy, next generation devices will need to be interoperable, integrated, engaging, social and outcomes-driven.”
Here at Tamooz Marketing Communications, we’ve been working with the largest global medical device companies in the world. From planning to execution, we’re here to help you in every step of your way, all the way down your strategic vertical marketing & communications plan. Contact me now to see what we can do for your business too.