Smart Products and Wearables in Healthcare
Wearable technology aims to simplify our regular activities and operate autonomously by connecting to networks and other devices. Smart wearable and healthcare devices have become more prevalent and companies are working on innovative ways to apply wearable devices to ensure a better lifestyle.
Wearable technology employs a variety of forms and is seamlessly integrated with other technology and includes almost everything we wear. The evolution and innovation of wearable devices are limitless and new devices are added every day. Wearable innovations improve multiple aspects of work and life with smart products and healthcare and make our lives easier in many ways. The integration with various sensors and software algorithms are making the devices necessary parts of our daily life.
The wearable industries are growing quickly with the latest innovations and demands. The global wearable devices market size was estimated at $137.8 billion in 2022 (the base year for estimation 2021 and historical data 2014 to 2020) and is expected to reach $546.8 billion by 2030, at a 18.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), forecast period 2023 to 2030 .
BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO WEARABLES
Wearable devices are designed to be worn as accessories on your body, and they can be embedded in clothing, implanted in your body, or even tattooed on your skin. The gadgets are built with sensors, processors, and connectivity elements that enable the detection, analysis, and exchange of data.
The first wearable could be traced to a small watch created by German inventor Peter Henlein in the 1500s, which was worn as a necklace . The first wearable hearing aids were introduced in the late 1800s. Sony introduced the first transistor radio in 1955 and the Sony TR-55 served as a role model for modern portable gadgets . The most recognizable wearable device evolved from the wristwatch, the modern use of the wristwatch was pioneered by an aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont in 1904 . The multirole wristwatch began with the Hewlett Packard HP-01 in 1977 (Figure 1), which was branded as a calculator wristwatch but introduced with several technologies including time of day, date, calendar, alarm, timer, and stopwatch .
The modern smart watches were widely available through the Samsung Galaxy Gear in 2013. Today, there are many different forms including the activity tracker, medical devices, and clothing. The wearable devices can be connected with existing devices such as smartphones and computers that allow sharing data via wireless connectivity or over the Internet.
INNOVATIONS OF WEARABLES
Modern wearable devices are powered by microprocessors and enhanced with the ability to send and receive data without requiring human intervention. Wearable technology is growing, especially with the integration of other technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and the Internet of Things (IoT). The rapid adoption of the devices has placed wearable technology at the forefront of the IoT. Wearable technology has a wide variety of applications and those innovations are playing an important role in smart lifestyles and healthcare.
Wearable technology with smart devices aims to simplify your regular activities. Smart devices connect to networks and other devices that allow them to operate interactively and autonomously. Wearable technology manufacturers are continuously developing new devices that are no longer limited to just smartwatches. Expanding and more innovative smart wearable categories include smart clothing, smart jewelry, and smart shoes. Other smart technology-related wearable innovations include GPS-integrated activity trackers, finger motion-sensing keyboards, lifestyle-tracking earrings, rock climber wearables, hydration-enhancing clothing, autonomous wearable cameras, kid-coding wearable tech, automatic shoe lacing, wearable air purifiers, and so on.
The wearable devices collect data in real-time and can even send the user’s health information to a doctor or healthcare professional. The devices are lightweight, small in size, and can be placed on your body to measure your physical activity such as body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. A few of those healthcare wearable options include fitness monitoring, wearable injectors, and heart monitoring. Other healthcare-related wearable innovations include sleep-inducing gadgets, total health-tracking wearables, diabetes-monitoring devices, fitness trackers, fitness watches, smart swimming caps, concussion-detecting helmets, and so on.
In recent years, smart wearable devices have become more capable of running autonomous workloads through a wide range of sensors. The global smart wearable devices market size was estimated at $45.9 billion in 2022 (the base year for estimation 2020 and historical data 2017 to 2019) and is expected to reach $137.7 billion by 2030, at a 14.7% CAGR, forecast period 2023 to 2030 .
Smart Clothing: Smart clothing is designed as intelligent wearables to communicate with connected devices. These clothes are incorporated with advanced textile fibers, biotechnological sensors, microelectronics, AI, and machine learning. Smart clothes come with a variety of sensors that measure various metrics, biometrics, and physical data, such as body temperature and heart rate. If something is wrong or outside the norm they send sensor-generated data to relevant apps for users to view. The data allows you to monitor your health and fitness. Many companies have begun integrating technology in fashion through smart clothes that are popping up in almost every fashion category, such as smart shoes, smart sleepwear, and smart socks.
Levi’s Commuter X Jacquard by Google Trucker Jacket (Figure 2) is a good example of smart clothing that allows you to link your mobile device via Bluetooth. The Jacket allows you to control music, screen phone calls, or get directions with a tap or brush of the cuff. Levi’s denim innovation incorporates Google engineering to create this groundbreaking garment, with conductive Jacquard Thread woven into it. To access the Jacquard features, you need the Jacquard app and a Google account and some features best experienced with headphones. You must also have an Android or iOS phone and the features vary between iOS and Android. Battery life is up to 14 days that vary based on usage and settings. The Jacket is designed to withstand up to 10 washes with the Jacquard snap tag removed and varies by usage and wash conditions.
Smart Jewelry: Smart jewelry is a great combination of fashion and technology that is designed to elevate technology to the level of luxury with some useful functionality. Depending on design and functionality, the capability of smart jewelry can vary. Some of them combine with technology to provide you with calls, texts, email, and notifications. Several smart pieces of jewelry are designed with the ability to track your fitness and activity, sleep duration and quality, and silent alarms through LED lights or vibrations. Smart jewelry are wearable devices that can be used to stay in touch with the people and information valued the most.
Leaf Urban from Bellabeat (Figure 3) is a good example of smart jewelry designed for women’s health. The technology helps provide valuable insight into your habits and determine areas that should be improved by learning about your activity and sleep patterns, stress resistance, and it provides reminders to stick to your commitments. Leaf Urban embraces the fashion-meets-technology idea with no more switching your fitness tracker, combining the best of both worlds to bring you a fashionable wellness experience. It is built with highly sensitive movement sensors and secure data backup, and a long-lasting replaceable simple coin-cell battery that runs up to 6 months 24/7 with continuous tracking. The building materials include hypoallergenic stainless steel, wood composite, and hypoallergenic rubber. It is water resistant and shower-safe (IPX grade 6). Leaf Urban has wireless connectivity and compatibility with Android (4.3 and later) and iOS (9 and later). You can simply sync your Leaf with your phone via wireless sync and it allows you to store data for up to 14 days and syncs with Apple Health Kit and Google Fit apps through the Bellabeat companion app. You can wear Leaf Urban in three different ways including as a bracelet, necklace, or as a clip.
Smart Shoes: Smart shoes might look like regular shoes, but they have many cool features that make them essential to daily life. Smart shoes are integrated with several sensors and small devices that are used to track your activity by monitoring how many steps you’ve taken, how many calories you’ve burned, your pace, and more. These shoes can indicate your location by using geo-location systems, such as GPS. Smart shoes can be designed with many useful environmental sensors that detect the atmosphere around you and can monitor light, sound, altitude, and more. The shoe with a pressure sensor makes it capable of monitoring your weight.
UA HOVR Machina 3 Running Shoes from Under Armour (Figure 4) is a good example of smart shoes that track and analyze your running metrics to help you be a better runner by connecting UA MapMyRun. Using the app you can improve your stride with real-time Form Coaching that helps keep you healthy through a good running form. You can download UA MapMyRun, connect your UA HOVR running shoes with Bluetooth technology, and run better with the help of your real-time Form Coach. The app allows data tracking and on-the-run Form Coaching to help you run faster and farther, reduce your risk of injury, and ensure running feels easier. UA HOVR is designed for optimal lightweight containment and breathability and its strategically mapped design without overlays or seams allow you to put in the miles without irritation. The shoes also offer ultra-high performance, along with the speed and versatility to run on any terrain, at any pace, for any distance. The smart shoes are built with channeled rubber outsoles mapped for durability in high-wear areas and flex zones to promote natural movement. UA HOVR Machina 3 helps you put in miles with the right amount of cushioning and bounce.
WEARABLE IN HEALTHCARE
Wearable devices in healthcare are designed to ensure healthy life by monitoring and collecting data on health and physical activity. The information tracks some important factors of your health such as calorie expenditure, stress, and even early warning signs of infection. The wearable devices can also alert us to risk factors that might affect our health and wellbeing. The global wearable medical devices market size was estimated at $27.2 billion in 2022 (the base year for estimation 2021 and historical data 2018 to 2020) and is expected to reach $196.6 billion by 2030, at a 28.1% CAGR, forecast period 2023 to 2030 .
Wearable Injectors: Wearable injectors are drug-delivery systems that adhere to the patients’ bodies and automatically deliver set doses at optimal times. Wearable injection systems represent the natural evolution of chronic disease management that has been spurred by the concept of patient-centricity and focus on human factors in drug-delivery design. The devices are designed to enable comfortable and low-profile delivery of precisely dosed medications over fixed or variable periods. The injector’s functionality provides increased opportunities for delivering both larger doses or higher viscosities or both, accomplished while mitigating discomfort to the patient associated with larger doses, and reducing the total number of injections required.
The BD Libertas Wearable Injector (Figure 5) is a good example of the evolution of an injection system that is designed as a pre-fillable drug delivery system to deliver complex biologics with viscosities configurations anywhere. The wearable injector can be fit for the single-use, fixed-dose, or refillable design with a pre-attached adhesive pad. The dose delivery options are 2mL to 5mL or 5mL to 10mL. The injectors come with a mechanical spring-based power module, BD glass primary container, needle technology, and a transparent viewing window for drug and drug delivery visibility. It allows push-button activation and color-coded status indicator. It uses a mechanical spring-based power source and has no battery or heavy metals disposal concerns. The wearable injector enables hands-free drug delivery with automated needle insertion and passive needle retraction. BD Libertas has multiple indications of injection status including audible, tactile, and visual throughout the injection process. It is delivered as five component modules in sterile packaging for factory fill/finish and assembly.
Heart Monitoring: In recent years, wearable heart monitoring systems have become common healthcare tech gadgets. The devices help to monitor patient heart activity from anywhere and doctors or medical professionals can monitor patient heart data in real-time with those medical wearables that are used to timely adjust the disease management plan. The heart has a wide variety of important functions that should be monitored in real-time, such as echocardiography and heartbeats. Several types of wearable heart monitoring devices offer heart condition monitoring from home or anywhere. Those devices can be integrated with smartphones and, using smartphone apps, can automatically analyze the activity and if any factor is detected immediately represent that through notifications.
Wellue DuoEK Portable EKG Monitor (Figure 6) is a useful heart tech gadget that delivers hand-held wearable instant EKG Analysis with the smartphone app. No subscription is required. By integrating with iOS and Android it offers unlimited storage with the app and can share reports with the doctor. The device can monitor and record EKG information even when it is not connected to the mobile app. Wellue Duoek EKG Monitor has built-in memory and a rechargeable battery. The heart monitoring gadgets are designed with Lead I, Lead II, or chest Lead. It can detect heart rate and EKG and take notes on the app for each measurement. Wellue DuoEK can be connected with a micro-USB connector and Bluetooth 4.0 BLE and compatible phone systems iOS and Android can work with iOS 9.0 (or above), iPhone 4s, iPad 3 (or above), and Android 5.0 (or above). It has a rechargeable lithium-polymer battery with 2-3 hours of charging it can take more than 500 checks. Derek’s heart rate ranges from 30 to 250 bpm and the EKG length is from 30 seconds to 15 minutes. The device’s built-in storage is 10 sessions if the EKG length is less than 1 minute and 1 session if the EKG length is 15 minutes.
Fitness Tracking: The fitness tracker is the most known healthcare wearable device used to monitor and track fitness-related metrics and activities such as calorie consumption, step counts, and heartbeat. The device helps you manage and monitor daily fitness activities making it easier to stick to a healthier diet and exercise, and ensure better sleep. The fitness tracker is a motivational device that supports you to identify activity achievement against planning and allows you to record real-time data and scheduled fitness activities. Several fitness tracker devices offer different types of solutions to individual interests in working toward specific health and fitness goals including keeping track of your progress, topping up your fitness plan, and free workout trainer and tips.
The Oura Ring Generation 3 (Figure 7) is a good fitness tracking device and it features an enhanced sensor package that can help you more accurately track and optimize your health by monitoring sleep, activity, and body stress signals. The device uses your finger to obtain accurate heart rate data, sensitive to movement, and accurate across all skin tones. The wearable device analyzes measurable factors such as scoring sleep to determine your deep sleep, light sleep, REM sleep, nightly heart rate, bedtime schedule, and more. To score your activity and readiness, the device analyzes your daily movement, how much rest you’re getting, the quality of sleep, your activity levels, and body stress signals such as body temperature and HRV.
Oura Ring can run for 4 to 7 days with a full charging battery that needs 20 to 80 minutes and it has research-grade sensors for monitoring sleep, activity, recovery, heart rate, stress, temperature, and more. Oura Ring has more than 50 audio sessions for meditation, focus, energy boosts, and more. It is a comfortable and timeless ring designed with water-resistant and ultra-lightweight that can be worn for every occasion, from work activity to work out to night out. By connecting with your smartphone through the OURA app, Oura Ring enhanced your fitness activity with higher accuracy of monitoring and analysis.
The evolution and possibilities of wearable technology make it clear that it is going to be one of the most useful parts of our daily life. Smart wearable and healthcare devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers have become more and more prevalent over the past several years. Companies are working on more efficient, latest, and innovative ways to apply wearable devices to ensure a better lifestyle.
Invisibility: Wearable devices are becoming more personalized as tech gadgets for fashion and healthcare. With the rapid evolution of technology, the components become smaller, more efficient, and more powerful. In the near future, the wearables could be even less visible, by adding the thin components inside your favorite jewelry that measure biometric data, activity levels, and many other things. The wearables will intertwine so closely with fashion we won’t be able to distinguish them from the several tech trends such as conductive fabrics and sensor-clad smart garments. There are many organizations like Hexoskin and AiQ Clothing already paving the way with biometric garments that can measure body vitals and open up more possibilities for invisible wearables.
Power Source: The source of energy is an important factor in power wearables devices. Recent batteries, reusable techniques, and power sources may run for a long time but they are limited. Many organizations are working on alternative forms of energy to power wearables, such as manufacturing clothing with solar cells to charge wearables devices from Tommy Hilfiger. and kinetic energy-powered gadgets from AMPY. Future-generation wearable devices will be more power-efficient and those will be capable of self-charging from various environmental factors such as leveraging body heat, solar energy, and even movement into power.
Authentication: Wearable technologies are growing rapidly but are limited. There is a wide variety of possibilities for daily use. One possibility is using wearables for authentication, such as unlocking doors instead of using keys and even buying things from the store without having to go through the checkout process. Disney is currently using MagicBand, a wearable device that gives customers access to rides, hotel rooms, and other features in its parks.
Thin wearables, such as smart tattoos, might also change our authenticating experiences through many modern features. The inventions could also change the way we interact with the world, making it easier and faster to get through some of the processes in our daily life, such as security clearances, visitor passes, and so on.
PUBLISHED IN CIRCUIT CELLAR MAGAZINE • AUGUST 2022 #385 – Get a PDF of the issueSponsor this Article
Al Mahmud Al Mamun Former (March 2022-July 2022) Editor-in-Chief — Editor-in-Chief Circuit Cellar magazine. With a background in engineering, research, and publishing and a master’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering. His passions include Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Smart technologies.