The Week in Wearables April 17

Consumer Wearables

Lots of news from Facebook F8 dev conference this week. Highlights related to wearables are brain-computer interfaces and “skin hearing”. This is all very interesting lab work, but it’s many years from seeing the outside of the lab. Don’t underestimate the challenge of bringing scalable technology to market that interacts with the human body. It’s a completely different animal than software, AR, or VR. Here.

Garmin is stepping up its efforts to build a smart watch platform with its first developer conference and announced integration to IoT home automation devices. Further evidence of the convergence across sub-segments of wrist wearables – i.e. fitness watches and smart watches overlapping capabilities from different angles. Here.

Both Amazon and Google have made their voice recognition technologies available to their cloud computing customers. Here and Here. Very likely to accelerate the trend of voice as the next UI. Here (Valencell blog).

Apple is bringing a second ODM online for the Apple Watch. This is most likely for second-source risk management but China’s EDN reporting it will increase capacity “due to an optimistic sales outlook for the device.” Could be both. Either way Apple clearly not concerned about “slow” consumer adoption of smart watches. Here.

Research shows exercise is “contagious” on social networks. Fitbit figured this out years ago and it was a significant factor in their growth, but most wearables still don’t leverage social/community nearly enough. Here.

Medical Wearables

Verily started accepting applications for participation in Project Baseline, a 4-year, 10,000 person longitudinal study that is being described as “the first step on our journey to comprehensively map human health.” The study will use the “investigational” Study Watch announced last week, as well as a sleep sensor and a home hub for secure data transfer to Google. In many ways this is an experiment in the future of healthcare delivery – using discrete, continuous monitoring for proactive identification of health issues as early as possible.”What we are really aiming to do is figure out how do we identify people who have a change in their health early enough where we can make an intervention so they don’t come into the hospital.”  Here.

Researchers have developed a wearable sensor can diagnose cystic fibrosis (and potentially other diseases) by stimulating and analyzing minute amounts of sweat. “In the longer term, we want to integrate it into a smartwatch format for broad population monitoring,” They need to crawl before they walk – large scale clinical trials are next. Here.

Stanford med school experimenting with VR as a teaching tool for med students and patients. Currently this is “pre-canned” views inside a virtual human body, but this will get very interesting when existing tools like fMRI are combined with AR and ingestibles to get real-time views inside real patients. The tech exists now, the combination does not. Here.

Interesting insight on the growth in medical device clinical trials – up 63% since 2012. Here.


Accenture report claims more than 70% of US consumers want to use “virtual services” to track biometrics, for follow-up appointments, or to be examined for non-emergent health issues, but only 1-in-5 people are actually receiving care virtually. Accenture estimates that applying virtual health to annual ambulatory patient encounters would save more than $7 billion worth of primary care physicians’ time each year. Here.

More data from Accenture – 91% of providers and 95% of payers say wearables are a component of their wellness and prevention IoHT solutions. Here.

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