Thursday, July 2, 2020

Wearable Health Technology Set To Take Off As Apple Joins the Fray

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Announcements from Apple are eagerly anticipated. After all, this is the company that revolutionized whole industries with its phones, music devices and tablets. With so many blockbuster tech innovations under its belt, it’s remarkable that the product most deserving of the limelight at the most recent launch was a humble watch.

Wearable tech is set to for a boom with new entries from companies like Apple. Photo: Supplied.

Or not so humble. The days when watches only told the time have ticked by. They’ve now become wearables, loaded with the latest tech and embracing specialized uses. Companies like FitBit tout fitness benefits, tech giants like Apple lead with connectivity, and a final niche is occupied by products that provide monitoring and health alarm systems. Now the lines between these categories are beginning to blur as wearables come with a myriad of features and replace the functional with fashionable. 

Apple’s latest iteration of its watch includes fall-detection capability and a built-in electrocardiogram (ECG) feature that transforms the watch from a smart fitness tracker to a potential life saver. This functionality is currently only available in the U.S., while Apple works with Health Canada to gain official authorization here. Despite this,
the Series 4 Apple Watch launch is a major landmark in the popularization and growth of wearables, as a high-demand, fashionable product puts health at the forefront of its design.

Wearable adoption rates are set to explode, with the market tipped to reach $71 billion in 2021 – a threefold increase in value since 2017. Commercialization will be spearheaded by behemoths like Apple, who already command an eager audience. However, wearable tech with a greater specialization on health also seems set to take off, as Boomers adopt a more hands-on (or wrist-on) approach to their health. They know the critical role of health plays in a full and vibrant life, and they know that technology has the potential to assist them in ways that past generations could only dream of.

NurtureWatch, launched by a Canadian company, is a GPS device that offers 24/7 monitoring and protection. Photo: Supplied.

NurtureWatch is one of several products that aims to rise with the tide. This new Canadian-based brand offers all the key features that consumers look for in wearable health tech: two-way communication, fall alerts, GPS tracking, a heart rate monitor and an alarm button that initiates a SOS distress call in an emergency. 

Jacob Moshinsky is the founder of NurtureWatch. When he looks at the wearable market, he identifies diversity as its engine of growth. “Wearables are top of mind for consumers because of their multiple possible uses, features and pricing options,” he states“From health and safety watches, like the NurtureWatch, to fashionable, like the Fossil & Samsung brands, to upscale like the Apple Watch and luxury like Breitling, or sporty like the FitBit. As a direct result, consumers have a variety of options, features and price points that fit their lifestyle, heath needs and pocket books.”

“Wearables will make a huge impact in monitoring and assisting health decisions.”

As the value of the market grows, so will its value to us. “Wearables will make a huge impact in monitoring and assisting health decisions and this sector is where I believe the biggest success stories will come from,” says Moshinsky. These successes may be fuelled by a movement from on-demand monitoring and measurement of our health to using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help us make better health decisions, while also providing greater insights for healthcare providersAI has huge potential, and as Moshinsky points out: “This can include everything from pre-detecting heart attacks to pre-empting a senior who’s getting dementia – all while alerting nearby people, family members and emergency care providers to immediately attend to the person.”

For all of its positive impact and potential to improve and save lives, wearable health tech that went beyond fitness monitoring has struggle to catch the consumer imagination. In a world where technology is becoming streamlined and intelligently designed, many devices looked basic and bulky.

Thankfully, that perception is changing as new models hit the shelves, and when a big player like Apple dips its toe in the water, you can bet everyone else will sit up and take notice. The wearables of the future will have form and function – an ideal combination when people are increasingly demanding both.

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