The Worn Past and Wearable Future: The New Consumer Health Ecosystem
Last year was the breakthrough for wearables, and this year has been even bigger. The successful IPO of Fitbit is by many seen as a symbol of the bright future of consumer wearables, for which sales are predicted to double by 2018. During the Health 2.0 9th Annual Fall Conference in Silicon Valley, the session The New Consumer Health Ecosystemis slated to give insight into the promising future of wearables, but let’s first take a quick glance into the past of digital health wearables.
In 1977, C.C. Collins of the Smith-Kettlewell Institute of Visual Sciences designed a camera-to-tactile vest for the blind that converted images into a 1024-point 10-inch squaretactile grid. For those of us without a degree in mechanical engineering, an easier way of describing it is: doing for the sense of touch what computer graphics does for vision.
A decade later, the Nicolet Corporation launched the first commercial digital health care wearable, a digital hearing aid. Poor user design and functionality accelerated the failure of the product – although the innovation that was integral to its creation persisted and inspired the current-day commercial hearing aid industry.
It’s hasn’t been until recent years that digital health held a foothold in the commercialized consumer wearables stage. Trackers, glasses, headsets, and smart watches are just some of the products in the current digital landscape. A survey from 2014 finds that 56% of US consumers believe that the average life expectancy will grow by 10 years by using wearables, and 46% believe wearable technology will decrease obesity. Seeing both an increase in supply and demand of digital health wearables, the path of the industry becomes all the more important. The New Consumer Health Ecosystem will explore how this path is being shaped by bringing together platforms and products from retailers like Walgreens and Under Armour, to spark a game changing conversation.