Wearables, as the name implies, are digital-driven smart devices that can be worn as watches, bracelets, shoes, glasses, clothing or even jewelry. The success of wearables is best illustrated by numbers — the total number of connected wearable devices worldwide is forecast to pass 1 billion by 2022. There are so many different implementations of wearable solutions that it would be a challenge to list them all. Nevertheless, in this article, we’ll highlight the biggest advantages of wearable technology and explain why its adoption can be vital.
A couple of decades ago, could you have imagined that your watch would be able to track your body movements or monitor your heart rate and blood pressure? Back then it would have sounded like something out of a sci-fi movie, but that’s the digital world we live in today. Early adopters of wearable technology are always a few steps ahead of the competition, and here’s why.
Ability to save you in a life-threatening condition
It’s not all novelty brand toys, designed just to make you look stylish. A lot of IoT devices are also about safety — they have exceptional potential to save your life thanks to location tracking and health monitoring features. If a device detects an anomaly, it can send a notification to you, your relatives, colleagues or physicians. There are wearable devices that can detect and predict arrhythmia, irregular heartbeat, cardiac arrest or other vital health issues, and then warn users to get emergency medical care.
- The Sun interviewed Dennis Anselmo, who had recently experienced a heart attack. He was feeling sick at work, so he decided to check his heart rate with his Apple Watch. He found out it was 210 bpm, so he immediately called an ambulance and was taken to the hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with arterial thrombosis and managed to save his life. Without his watch, he might have simply gone home and risked dying because he had not reacted quickly enough.
In January 2017, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s office managed to find a missing 19-year-old autistic teen thanks to a Project Lifesaver wearable device.
- This BuzzFeed article reported the case of a 42-year-old who had a heart rate of 160–190 bpm and atrial fibrillation, which put him at risk of having a stroke. The hospital he was checked into had two major treatment protocols for restoring normal heart rhythm: either an electric shock if atrial fibrillation lasts for less than 48 hours, or blood thinners if it lasts for longer than that.
Neither doctors nor the patient knew when atrial fibrillation had started, and the patient had no prior history. The doctors weren’t able to pick the right treatment until one of them noticed the patient was wearing a Fitbit. This wearable health tracker provided them with all the data they needed to save their patient.
In July 2016, 17-year-old Gisselle Castro experienced life-threatening ventricular fibrillation. Fortunately, she was wearing a LifeVest device that delivered three electric shocks once her heart stopped beating. She was alive when the ambulance arrived, all thanks to this fascinating disability-supporting piece of technology.
- To avoid and reduce workplace injuries at construction sites, ports and other hazardous industrial areas, workers must strictly follow safety regulations. That said, mistakes are sometimes made and injuries caused due to fatigue or excessive workload.
The Romware wearable solution is designed to strengthen safety precautions: it notifies workers of potentially hazardous situations, such as that they’re entering a danger zone or that a moving vehicle is near. An operator can see the real-time location of employees and send an alert in case of an emergency. On top of that, security system provides access to equipment and workshops only to employees with the right authorization certificates.
A lot of fatal traffic accidents are caused by people checking their smartphones while driving. Wearables offer a possible solution, with AR smart glasses that can display relevant notifications, hence keeping a driver focused on the road.
Enhanced Chronic Disease Control
Vulnerable patients with chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, asthma or heart-related issues are in desperate need of a technology for monitoring and controlling their health condition. That’s where wearable solutions can step in to save the day.
Diabetes is another issue that requires constant monitoring. According to the CDC, almost 90 million American adults have prediabetes, and 90% of them don’t even realize they have it. It’s one of the leading causes of death in the country, and is almost impossible to cure.
Health-tracking software allows you to monitor and adjust your physical activity and diet thanks to the built-in mHealth nutrition programs, and will encourage you to stick to a healthy lifestyle. There are also implant-like devices for monitoring glucose levels, with a sensor placed under the skin.
In most cases, you can check the data and examine the results via interactive and user-friendly mobile apps, since each piece of wearable tech can be linked to a smartphone. Take a sneak peek at some fascinating wearables people with chronic diseases can opt for.
- Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre device can monitor glucose levels day and night, with a sensor placed under the skin on the back of the upper arm. You can check the readings at any time.
Some devices automatically inject medication into your blood system, like those delivering insulin at variable dose rates. The Omnipod DASH system consists of a tubeless, waterproof wearable Pod that provides up to 72 hours of insulin injection. You can adjust the dose and share your mobile app data with your physician.
Over 250 million people worldwide have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Sleep apnea is another severe health issue that causes people to stop breathing during sleep. ResMed portable oxygen devices help you to manage sleep apnea and lung diseases, thus making your sleep more restful and comfortable. Moreover, data gathered by your mHealth-driven app is of great use when it comes to improving and adjusting your sleep patterns.
Adamm by Health Care Originals is a wearable AI-based device that helps you effectively manage and control your asthma. The device monitors your cough rate, respiration patterns, wheezes and heart rate, and detects symptoms that deviate from your norm. Adamm can vibrate to notify you of changes immediately, as well as send a message to designated people.
Virtual doctor visit and remote patient monitoring
Telemedicine is incredibly popular these days. It’s a relatively new, cost-effective and patient-friendly approach for providing remote healthcare services. It’s especially vital for disabled people and those unable to get an in-person consultation.
A virtual clinic can offer alternative access to healthcare services, reducing unnecessary and costly ER visits. This revolutionary tech trend is gaining traction rapidly, so it’s no wonder the global telemedicine market is forecast to reach a mind-blowing $41 billion by 2021.
Smart wearables and sensors offer enhanced communication between a patient and a doctor, providing real-time monitoring of vital health conditions. Once a wearable device detects a critical or unusual activity, a physician gets a timely alert so preventive measures can be taken.
This also means that you don’t have to waste your time on travel and waiting at the doctor’s office. According to a survey, about 64% of patients said they would prefer an online virtual doctor visit instead of on-site medical care.
This technology can also be indispensable for the elderly. According to a survey, the total number of Americans over the age of 65 is forecast to reach 98 million by 2060. Nursing facilities won’t have the capacity to deal with such tremendous growth. Wearable technology and the IoT sector, in general, will have to pitch in and provide invaluable support for the monitoring and critical-care fields.
- There are a multitude of wearable devices for the elderly population and non-ambulatory patients, such as connected inhalers, digital pills, shirts that monitor the patient’s condition, or incontinence underwear that notifies nurses of accidents.
As mentioned above, wearables can gather in-depth info on various health conditions from patients all over the globe within days or even months. Thanks to massive open-source databases, doctors are able to establish more accurate diagnoses, thus strengthening the overall medical practice.
- mHealth software is synchronized with wearable devices and can notify patients that it’s time to take their medication. Furthermore, patients themselves can monitor the state of their health and seek relevant recommendations or working treatment schedules.
Physicians can use telemedicine-driven wearable solutions to keep in touch with their co-workers and colleagues for a streamlined and flexible workflow.
Іmproved fitness and lifestyle
Fitness is the primary driving force for the wearables industry. A Gartner report predicts that overall spending on wearable products, including smart health watches, will rise to $62 billion in 2021.
A lot of people who start a fitness program drop it after a few months, but fitness tracking devices can help us be more conscious about our health and fitness. According to research, wearables encourage us to adopt a more proactive approach and keep up with healthy habits and physical activities.
- You can synchronize a health monitoring device with a smartphone to track your progress, check leaderboards, crack your records and gather data on physical activities. You can also enjoy features like heart-rate monitoring and calorie-burn count during exercise.
- There are digital-driven compression shirts that will warn you if you pull a muscle or are in danger of rupturing a ligament.
- On top of everything else, digital-driven smart clothing solutions can offer activity and sleep tracking, as well as provide recommendations on how to improve these. Such wearables can monitor your heartbeat, heart rate variability, the intensity of your activity, breathing rate, sleep positions, load and fatigue assessments, and so on.
- Fitness wearable devices, along with the help of a professional coach, can turbo-boost your progress and help you manage your fitness schedule.
Streamlined workflow and satisfied employees
“Wearable technology is arguably the biggest trend since tablet computing, so it’s natural that employees and businesses will look to use these devices in the workplace. Our initial findings suggest that there is a benefit to be gained from doing so alongside risks and opportunities that need to be proactively addressed.“Dr. Brauer
Over the last few years, a lot of companies have started to include wearable technology into their social benefits packages. Glassdoor reported that 13 million wearable fitness devices were projected for workplace wellness programs back in 2018.
The business sector collaborates with health insurers to deploy robust, cost-effective programs for acquiring readily available wearables. Furthermore, some insurance companies reduce insurance payments for people utilizing wearables solutions, making them financially beneficial too.
Given all the invaluable advantages of wearable tech trends, employers recognize that there’s an opportunity for a significant increase in employee satisfaction as well as the profitability of the technology. According to a study, employees who utilized wearable software solutions had a 44% decrease in sick days.
- Health trackers alert stationary workers when it’s time to get up and stretch, which by itself leads to improved workplace health and safety. Thanks to the synchronized ecosystem, you’ll never be at risk of missing an emergency message, since these are sent directly to your device.
- Again, fitness trackers are a fantastic way to foster healthy competition with your colleagues. Employers can also establish fitness-based events for their employees and reward those with the highest ratings based on the mobile app data.
- Wearable software is of great assistance when it comes to providing real-time navigation for employees who are always on the go and need GPS tracking.
- Sometimes it’s impossible to use a smartphone with your hands full, so a smartwatch will always come in handy.
It’s safe to say that the benefits of wearable solutions will cause the industry to boom in the near future. With such enormous potential, it’s a challenge to imagine how this technology will develop in a few decades. For now, the most important issue is to carefully avoid legacy or poor-quality software.
For us as users it’s vitally important to choose a quality material to wear all day long, real scientific research as a baseline of algorithms and a killing team that stands behind it all. Join the community of your wearable device producer, challenge yourself with new achievements or even competitions and become a better version of yourself with the help of your small bracelet.