The pandemic has heightened awareness of unexpected illnesses and health issues, and how consumers can track and manage their own needs. The wearable health tech market is extremely positive and is expected to be worth nearly US$200 billion by 2027, with the number of wearable devices soaring past 1 billion by the end of 2022. The industry is leading the way toward a world where we are surrounded with highly sophisticated ‘computers’, carrying them with us in the form of watches, wristbands, shoes, headsets, and glasses. The metrics being tracked are also evolving at pace, now not only limited to steps and heart rate but also user’s glucose levels, hydration status, and sweat levels.
Due to the advancement in technology, we will see new form-factor wearables hitting the market, to tackle health challenges or leverage super-fast networks. These would include technology strapped to the body in the form of ‘smart fabrics’ or textiles, which are embedded with sensors to track user metrics. The technology can be woven through fabric and used to track user’s body heat or perspiration. It can then respond to the user’s needs, such as cooling down.
Let’s look the top trends in Wearable Health Tech in 2022
- Smart Watches: Smart watches are standard wearable fitness trackers that offer exercise and health tracking benefits. They also, at times, include features such as sending the data to a mobile application which can send alerts directly to your phone. While smart health watches were first known for more simple features such as counting steps, recent advancements have made them more viable healthcare tools. The Apple Heart Study app gained popularity in 2017 for its capacity to monitor heart rhythm and alert users if they experience atrial fibrillation.
- Wearable ECG Monitors: Heart health monitoring devices will continue to gain popularity as more adults embrace digital tools to track and treat chronic illnesses. Wearable ECG monitors, found in smart watches, use flashing LEDs to penetrate the skin, capture the flow of blood through sensors, and produce heart rate data. ECG monitoring first became popular through the Apple Watch and is now manufactured by other brands as well.
- Wearable Blood Pressure Monitors: According to a survey conducted by the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition, most users are interested in monitoring chronic conditions, including asthma and high blood pressure. As wearables become more widely used for healthcare, blood pressure monitoring will become an even more sought-after feature.
- Smart Clothing: In 2022, we will see smart clothing increasingly adopted by mainstream consumers. This trend was shaped by fashion and tech brands, such as the Levi Commuter Jacquard jacket, which allowed users to control their phone and access services such as Google, Uber, car tracking etc. We might see the technology soon getting used in healthcare due to its benefits. Nadi X Yoga pants are one such example where it tracks the user’s posture and provides feedback on improvements. Another example is the Neviano swimsuit that detects the strength of UV light the user is exposed to and sends warnings to the user’s smartphone app if the levels go beyond a certain limit.
- Biosensors: Traditionally, biosensors were used to monitor a patient’s health status. They have since become more broadly marketed for wellness and fitness applications. They can be curated to detect a specific molecule that is linked to a health condition, offering insight into any concerns so that users can act more quickly and prevent the progression of a disease. Biosensors help healthcare professionals to monitor data from a distance. The necessity to start using biosensors, especially during a pandemic, could pave the way for increased adoption among healthcare professionals and their patients moving forward.
With advancement in technology, health tech devices will get more accurate, and the apps will get smarter, enabling users to monitor a broader range of health indicators and chronic conditions. Regulators will play a pivotal role in monitoring the effects and usage of such devices. Organizations as well research facilities are developing new technologies to meet growing demand for health care wearables in 2022 and beyond. Global acceptance of such wearables by consumers and health care professionals will surge as the demand grows and will make the wearable market a trillion-dollar industry in no time.