Global annual shipments for mobile health and fitness sensors — including dedicated devices and health/fitness-enabled smart devices such as smart watches, smartphones and tablets — will reach 515 million in 2017, up from 107 million in 2012, according to research firm ON World.
Based on health industry interviews and surveys of over 2,000 individuals, ON World further calculates that there will be 1.4 billion mobile sensing health and fitness app downloads worldwide by 2017, with health apps growing the fastest.
“Advances in low power wireless communications, MEMS [micro-electro-mechanical systems] and multi-sensor arrays have resulted in viable body area network applications for clinical patient monitoring, assisted care, at-home chronic disease management and general wellness,” says Mareca Hatler, ON World’s research director. “At the same time, there has been enormous growth for mobile sensing apps for smartphones and tablets.”
Mobile sensing solutions include wearable and implantable sensors as well as carry-able devices that can be used while the user is mobile.
From a recent ON World survey (Q2 2013), comprising 1,000 US consumers, the research firm discovered that nearly 4 in 10 are interested in purchasing a smart watch and 48 per cent are likely to use their smart watch for health or fitness.
Survey respondents, said ON World, were especially interested in using their smart watch for blood pressure and heart rate monitoring, as well as activity tracking.
Moreover, traditional health products are quickly being replaced with mobile sensing solutions. The pace of innovation in this area, says ON World, is illustrated by the fact that 60 per cent of mobile sensing products evaluated by the research firm were launched in 2012 or later.
Cardiac/ECG monitoring is a particularly popular developer area, accounting for 22 per cent of the health products researched by ON World.
Although widespread for fitness, ON World maintains that wearable multi-sensor vital-sign monitors is still an emerging market for healthcare. However, the research firm says results from pilots so far confirm that wearable vital-sign monitors are effective and preferred by both patients and health workers.
Between 2012 and 2017, predicts ON World, wearable health and fitness device shipments will increase by 552 per cent and make up over 80 per cent of the mobile sensing health and fitness device market by 2017.