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Date: 23-10-20

Consumer wearables; upgrading from fitness monitoring to reliable med device

With the availability of Apple's watch and Kardia ECG monitoring wearable device, the wearer can now get to know health of the heart in real time. However it is very much questionable whether these devices can detect any heart attack for sure. But if you look at the progress the wearable devices are making,they are getting close to becoming  physicians recommended medical devices.

There is a consumer craze in buying wearables for health and fitness monitoring. The market is full of products all the way from high-end Apple to lot of China made products. Apple continues to improve its wearable devices' performance and features close to physician approved/prescribed medical devices in the market. Normally approved medical devices undergo lot of testings and certifications by government authorized safety testing bodies before they are being prescribed. They are generally expensive. Now they are under competition from these consumer market targeted wearables with lot of health monitoring features.

Differences can be comparable to mobile phone camera competing with SLR camera. You always don't need SLR camera for most of the picture capturing, when you get comparable quality pictures from your smart phone. It looks like the wearable devices is progressing in this direction and replacing expensive and exclusive medical devices. Some of the good example is hearing aid, body temperature monitoring, and blood oxygen monitoring. Wherever you have nonintrusive monitoring, the wearable devices are getting closer in winning the trust of the customers.

Let's look at some of the latest market forecasts, figures, expert/analyst comments and findings.

Yole says hearable era is coming with about US$35 billion expected in 2025, in which earbuds are representing US$26 billion. Rest is hearing aids.Yole ranks Apple as the top wearable player with almost 40% of the global wearable market shares.  The second and third ranked  Samsung and Xiaomi have a share of 7% and 6% respectively.

Yole finds medical wearables represent about 20% of wearable revenues and has stated in its release "wearables with healthcare functions gain momentum with the pandemic to monitor vital signs. However, incorporating medical functions does not make a wearable a medical device. Consumer wearable companies mainly integrate functions such as fitness and wellness. Medical wearable companies, for their part, focus on patient monitoring and diagnosis."

Market researcher Qualiket Research estimates Global Wearable Medical Device Market at US$ 17.4 billion in 2019 and to reach USD 48.8 billion by 2027.

Emergen Research forecasts annual biosensor market growth rate of 7.3% from $19.19 billion in 2019 and $33.85 billion in 2027.

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