The wearable technology industry is expected to play a larger role in the medical and health sector due to the aging global population and the adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT). The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated this growth, which in turn has seen a surge in home fitness trends and an emphasis on developing a more connected healthcare system that can be continuously monitored. GlobalData forecasts that the wearable technology market will grow from $59 billion in 2020 to $156 billion in 2024, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.6%. For more information, see GlobalData’s Internet of Things – Featured Study.
Smartwatches and hearables are the largest segment of wearables and show the most significant growth in the industry. In terms of audio, Apple is the biggest player, releasing the third-generation AirPods last year, capturing 36 percent of the market. The Apple Watch also continues to dominate the smartwatch market, with its latest offering, the Apple Watch Series 8, capturing 29 percent of the market in the second quarter of 2022.
While previous generations of smartwatches included standard sensors for measuring heart rate and blood pressure and inferring sleep patterns, the latest smartwatches have more sophisticated features such as fall detection using accelerometers and gyroscopes, measuring blood oxygen and echocardiography ( ECG), and even a temperature sensor that claims to track ovulation cycles.
In addition to smartwatches, there are a variety of wearable devices in development and launch aimed at addressing epilepsy detection and blood sugar monitoring, as well as pain relief for these neurological disorders. As these technologies become more sophisticated, wearables will play an even greater role in the healthcare process.
Some of the barriers to continued growth of the industry include a lack of actionable data and sensor accuracy, which can be addressed by driving research and development (R&D) to advance these technologies. Furthermore, the cost of these products is another obstacle that may be overcome in the future through the aforementioned advancements, thereby reducing the cost of manufacturing these devices. Third, most insurance plans do not cover these types of purchases, although if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chooses to classify wearables as medical devices, the process of getting an FDA-approved wearable can begin , this may change in the future.
Products such as remote patient monitoring devices and devices that use mobile health apps will become more lucrative for the average consumer as an aging population puts an ever-increasing burden on the healthcare framework. In addition, companies will provide additional spending on research and development in wearable technology to capitalize on growing demand and work to create more accurate sensors and more reliable data for medical use. As a result, people will begin to embrace and learn new wearable technologies that contribute to the growth of the industry we see today.