What is Wearable Technology?
Wearable technology encourages wearers to be more engaged in their health and lifestyle choices. In addition to being a fashionable accessory, wearables collect pertinent data that can be sent to the wearer’s physician. This market is growing at a rapid pace, with 1 in 5 Americans owning a wearable tech device. In contrast to a one-time blood pressure reading at an appointment, wearables provide data taken over a period of time, such as sleep patterns, heart rate, and activity levels. This additional data can help alert doctors to issues that wouldn’t have been apparent otherwise.
Initially, wearables such as the Fitbit gained popularity by their ability to monitor the steps a person took throughout the day, and motivate them to reach a certain goal. With obesity being a global epidemic, doctors were particularly excited by this technology because it encouraged wearers to be more active. Many companies, who have an interested stake in keeping their employees healthy in hopes of cutting healthcare and insurance costs, started offering wellness plans to employees with incentives tied to using wearables to achieve health goals. Currently, about 46% of employers offer fitness trackers as part of their wellness programs.
The wearable market has evolved from technology that merely tracks fitness to impacting how wearers with chronic diseases conduct their daily lives. Currently, almost half of all American adults have one or more chronic health condition, which often arises due to unhealthy living, poor diet, little to no exercise and stress.
For example, roughly 30 million Americans are living with diabetes, a disease which requires daily monitoring of blood sugar levels. These levels are typically monitored through daily finger stick blood tests, and adhering to this rigorous care plan is a common challenge among diabetic patients. New wearable technology on the market such as K’Track Glucose may change that. K’Track Glucose is a wearable that allows diabetics to self-monitor their glucose levels without the need for blood-based tests. Wearers are encouraged to keep it on all day so it can monitor blood glucose, particularly during exercising, when glucose levels are apt to spike. The device alerts users to potentially dangerous spikes and lulls in their levels.
Today, the wearable technology market consists of clothing, earware, wristbands, eyewear and clip-on devices, and is expected to expand even further. Now that consumers are aware of the benefits these products can provide, the industry is working to improve and enhance the wearer’s experience. According to data from the International Data Corporation, an estimated 125.5 million wearable devices will be sold this year, up 20.4% from 2016. The wearable industry is anticipating to double by 2021, with an estimated 240.1 million units to be sold.