Extraordinary growth in wearables is being seen post covid years, covid alone is not the main reason. Major chunk of gadget friendly population were buying wearble for health monitoring even before covid. It's not just gadget crazy people buying wearable devices, even the cost conscious ordinary buyer thinking of investing in a wearable device for the benefits it gives. It saves time in monitoring health of aged person and sick person at home remotely.
The cost and pain of hospitalisation is driving the fear among health-conscious people to give importance to preventive healthcare and that is driving the market for the use of wearable devices by healthy people.
What is hurting the wearable industry is the shortage of semiconductor chips. Consumer electronics can manage with components which are not necessarily as robust as aerospace/mil grade or automotive grade with lot of certifications and approvals. That is helping the consumer-wearble industry to procure semiconductor devices from chip fabs/foundries which don't really fulfil extreme high reliability of components and most of the chips go inside wearable need not be made in cutting edge nodes like 5nm. Even a 28nm is lot good enough for many applications.
The use of wearable devices is rising among common public due to the importance they are giving to daily monitoring of health parameters such as heartbeat, body temperature, blood pressure, wearable device is also becoming needy for hands-free listening and operation of devices,machines, appliances and things around them. The key technologies driving these wearable devices are increased processing ability of chips, extreme low power consumption, new battery technologies, and development of new sensor technologies for monitoring health.
Covid has impacted the society to give more importance to health and at the same time the cost of devices are becoming affordable. For those who have money they can buy very feature rich wearable devices. Due to these reasons the health monitoring wearable device market is booming with massive growth in both shipment and revenue.
Let's look at each of the health concern consumer has and how the Devices address them. When you visit a physician for checkup, He/she most probably picks Stethoscope to test your heart beat. Let's look at the heart related monitoring, the present medical devices can do:
ECG/electrocardiography: if you place electrodes on the human body as close as possible to the heart and blood vessels around the human body in a nonintrusive way, these electrodes detect electrical signals which vary in synchronisation with heartbeat. The pattern of the electrical signal tells a lot about health of the heart. This is called electrocardiography or ECG. Today's smart watches have this electrode sensor built-in inside smart watch. The measurements of ECG in a typical hospital environment, measures ECG from 12 body points. Whereas in smart watch it will provide only a single lead, where the user need to touch the lead using finger to capture the ECG. That's pretty incomplete, but enough to give some idea on the health of the heart, but hardly reliable. However various heart related health conditions can still be detected using single lead and prevent any heart failures. Medical body FDA has approved the single lead ECG capable smart watches from some companies to detect some ailments of heart such as atrial fibrillation. If this is about ECG related sensing, the LED light-based heart beat sensing can be found in most of the wearables just to detect the heartbeat. However the user should have what is called "Strong Heart" to withstand false alarms.
Apple continuously launching series of smart watches with ECG, with the latest Apple Watch 7 models packs maximum features and high performance.
Fitbit as another company offering Smart watch with ECG monitoring. Its model named Fitbit Charge 5 is the latest model providing ECG.
Samsung is offering Smart watch with ECG feature in lots of models. Latest and most performance packed is its Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2. This watch asks you to clean your finger and wear-on the watch for at least 10 minutes before taking ECG.
There are also smart watches with an analog time display providing ECG future. The two models; Withings ScanWatch, and Withings Move ECG have built-in ECG .
Another ECG integrated Smart watch model named Alivecor KardiaMobile 6L can detect a lot more heart related problems compared to their watches such as Afib like bradycardia (slow heart rate), tachycardia (increased heart rate), and sinus rhythm.
Some of the earlier smart watches with ECG feature include Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch Series 5, Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, SOREX SG5 Smartwatch, Supersonic SC-84ECG, Omron HeartGuide.
The cost conscious users now also have the option of buying a low-priced portable exclusive ECG monitors which they can carry in their pockets. They can connect portable ECG devices to smart phones and provide the health of the heart along with the ECG images. Eko DUO ECG + Digital Stethoscope is a nice device which can be used to monitor health of the heart with or without connecting Smart phone. Omron KardiaMobile EKG is also one of the nice portable ECG device in the market. Just like smart watches, most of these devices too use single lead. If you are looking for consumer grade multi-lead ECG, these are available online at in the price range of Rs. 2000-Rs. 10,000
India based company called Agatsa has developed a product named SanketLife, the company claims this product is worlds smallest clinical grade touch based 12-lead electrocardiography monitor. It can be operated by anyone with minimal or no training. This heart monitor can measure accurate heartrate (HR), heartrate variability (HRV) stress and almost hundred plus heart diseases, company claims. There are devices starting from Rupees 3000/- to 7000/-. For more details visit https://sanketlife.in/.
To give you one more example, KardiaMobile is a medical-grade personal ECG device that lets you monitor your heart at ease in your home. It is a 6 lead device and need a support of mobile phone app to work. Priced Rs. 18,000/ - , can be purchase online at https://alivecor.in/kardiamobile6l/.
The market growth figures of medical wearable devices:
Polaris Market Research has estimated worldwide Wearable Medical Devices Market to reach to $ 85.6 Billion By 2027 from $ 14.6 Billion in 2019 growing at a CAGR of 24.8% during this period.
Another market researcher predicted worldwide smart watch market of US$11.42 Billion in 2018 and is estimated to reach US$690.38 Billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 66.92% from 2019 to 2026.
In the next article let's look at body temperature measurement feature in wearable devices.