Tag: wearable healthcare technology

A Short History of Wearables — and What the Future of Wearable Technology in Healthcare Will Look Like

Seth Casden

By Seth Casden, CEO and co-founder, Hologenix.

From its inception as a collection of cumbersome gadgets to its transformation into sleek, almost invisible tech integrations, wearable technology has come a long way. And as wearables have evolved over time — to be more in line with consumers’ needs and wants — they have edged ever closer to the realm of healthcare.

What will be the impact of wearable technology in healthcare today and in the future? Only time will tell, but we can learn a lot from the patterns we’re already witnessing.

A Brief History of Wearable Technology in Healthcare

Wearable technology in healthcare began as simple accessories, devices that could be strapped and attached to the body. The market erupted with tools like the Apple Watch and Fitbit, which were basically extensions of our smartphones and mostly used for telling time and counting steps.

Eventually, the market expanded, and consumers realized that these tools weren’t just handy; they were also health-conscious. Elite athletes and weekend warriors were the first groups to prove wearable devices could truly improve health and fitness by monitoring heart rates and activity levels.

In 2013, Google Glass came on the scene, introducing the concept of more integrated wearable technology. From here, the range of materials and nanomaterials that innovators began using to develop wearable technology expanded. Sensors captured biometric data, such as blood pressure, empowering consumers and healthcare providers to gain control and granular insights into their wellness. Today, devices like the Oura Ring and WHOOP bands can monitor stress, measure blood oxygen levels, help prevent illness, improve sleep on a scientific level, and much more.

Of course, the evolution of wearable technology in healthcare has also been shaped by its challenges. Early hurdles included durability and sustainability. Innovators needed to figure out how to create products that could be washed and worn safely without losing efficacy. Engineers developed methods of transforming existing cloth items into battery-free wearables resistant to laundry. As challenges like these are solved, devices will continue to evolve and have increased use cases.

How Have Wearables Evolved Alongside Consumers?

Consumer preferences and feedback have caused wearable trends to shift over time.

Consumers have shown increasing awareness of their mental and physical health over the last decade, accompanied by an increased desire to practice a healthy lifestyle. Health-conscious consumers are taking control of their wellness and choosing technology products that are personalized to them and can help them stay healthy proactively.

Wearable technologies have responded to these consumer trends. As consumer health awareness has grown — and their expectation for increased function from products — technologies like wearable step counters and infrared-responsive textiles have focused more on delivering data-driven health insights. Companies have also partnered with healthcare manufacturers and providers to ensure the validity of their health claims and help consumers get the most out of their treatment plans.

Wearable technology in healthcare has also evolved according to aesthetics and other preferences. A preference for seamlessness has led to the miniaturization of wearable components, a need for portability has led to advances in battery technology, and a desire for personalization has led to a shift toward variety and customization.

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