Innovation in the Smart Wearables Is Influencing the Future of Health Care

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1Q 2023 | IN-6842

Once considered “nice to have” devices, wearables have slowly turned into indispensable health and fitness assistants. The boundary between body and technology has blurred with increasingly smaller form factors packed with sensors, actuators, software, and electronics that can monitor and analyze a wide variety of data. Improved algorithms and computing power packed into tiny devices and sensors can rapidly interpret, analyze, and provide deep personalized and proactive insights.

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Hybrid and Updated Devices with More Focus on Healthcare Launched at CES 2023


The first in-person CES 2023 in 3 years highlighted some of the best wearable products with new designs and form factors. With improved sensors and new features, the wearable products came from both familiar and new names in the industry. Below are the most interesting wearables that were introduced at CES 2023:

  • Movano Evie Ring: Evie is a wearable ring specifically designed for women and is in direct competition with the Oura ring. Using various sensors and metrices, the ring gives detailed measurements of respiration, heart rate, skin temperature variability, period and ovulation cycles, menstrual symptoms, sleep, activity, and SpO2.
  • Citizen Second-Generation CZ Smart: The Japanese watchmaker announced its second-generation CZ Smart smartwatch with upgraded features and advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) integration delivering highly personalized health insights. The CZ Smart heavily uses AI to analyze health data and can predict wellness patterns over extended periods.
  • Fossil Gen 6 Wellness Edition Hybrid Smartwatch: The latest addition to Fossil’s smartwatch lineup with premium fitness tracking features and long battery life.
  • Moto Watch 100: The Moto Watch 100 has an always-on display, a battery life of up to 2 weeks, and a 5 ATM water resistance rating. For fitness and health tracking, there are 26 sports modes, onboard Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking, and a companion mobile app. The device is priced at US$99.
  • Oxa Life: A breathing wearable in the Kickstarter phase of funding, which aims for a more immersive health experience by providing data analysis in real time. The Oxa sensor connects to the Oxa Shirt or Oxa Bra, which keeps it against the wearer's body. Oxa focuses on three key metrics: breath, heart, and skin temperature monitoring. Guided exercises, audio and visual experiences, as well as the Oxa Life companion app allow consumers to account for their current health factors.

AI and New Radio Reduced Capacity (NR-RedCap) Will Drive Use Cases and Innovation in Wearables


Wearables have turned the world into a sphere of innovation and transformation where anything worn can be turned into a utility item. In the world of fashion, items like watches, bands, and rings are now designed to track health and enable other benefits. Once considered “nice to have” devices, wearables have slowly turned into indispensable health and fitness assistants. From smartwatches and hearing devices to smart clothes and activity trackers, wearables have changed the way technology can be used and provide benefits for new use cases. The market has also witnessed huge growth during and after the pandemic with an increase in health awareness among consumers and the emergence of a large number of players. Currently, the use of wearable trackers among cyclists, joggers, swimmers, and athletes is increasing rapidly as the wireless synchronization of these devices with smartphones enables users to control many functions. Moreover, some smartwatches now also have the functionality of Electrocardiograms (ECGs), measuring electrical activity of the heart for suspected diagnosis of atrial fibrillation. Wearables and associated algorithms are increasingly being used to treat physical and neural health problems.

In line with the devices launched at CES, real-time monitoring and AI are gaining a lot of momentum in the industry, notably as wearables are increasingly playing a pivotal role in the healthcare industry, assisting detection, diagnosis, and treatment. From robotics surgeries to virtual nursing assistants, AI has been the core of research for health and medical devices, helping medical professionals process and analyze information from wearable sensors more accurately to identify disease or the onset of medical conditions. It also helps identity patients who are at a higher risk of complications based on the data collected over a certain period. Digital health tech in collaboration with AI is making healthcare more intelligent both on macro and micro levels. At the macro level, data collected from hundreds of millions of people are used to identify patterns, inform about public health issues, and provide precautionary advice, while at the micro level, data are analyzed to provide deep insights about the human body to provide more personalized care.

According to ABI Research, the global wearable market grew by 14% Year-over-Year (YoY) in 2022  and is expected to reach over 600 million units in 2027 with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 11.1% from 2022 to 2027. Also, wearable healthcare devices saw a growth of around 21% YoY in 2022, reaching more consumers to build a strong ecosystem for the medical industry. The growth is driven by an acceleration of many brands joining the bandwagon and an awareness by consumers when it comes to health tracking and well-being. ABI Research expects that Reduced Capability (RedCap) is going to be the key connectivity channel in wearables in the years to come and the advancement of 5G in wearables will drive innovation and use cases. RedCap will offer real-time processing and data transfer with low latency rates, resulting in quick AI-based solutions and recommendations for consumers. It will also allow a cellular option at a fraction of power. With advanced and evolving digital health care technologies, more and more people who require immediate healthcare support or have problems traveling to seek care are opting to use wearable services that benefit both doctors and patients.

The use of these advanced healthcare devices can send patients’ health information to doctors in real time, which allows an immediate response to the patient, who can then take precautionary measures as instructed. Medical wearables, such as Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) systems, can also help treat and monitor patients with precision. With the evolution in advanced digital healthcare technologies, there are surely going to be many health and fitness advantages in the future. Convenience, cost, early detection of chronic disease, and regular and continuous monitoring are some of the key benefits for the patients and providers. Long-term monitoring can drive preventative care and its associated actions. Also, doctors can provide more personalized care to those who need it most, while reducing the burden on staff.

Opportunities for New and Existing Ecosystem Players


The wearables industry is now flooded with many brands across many device types, and this category has certainly changed in the way that individuals are embracing new healthcare use cases. In the coming years, the ultra-low latency of RedCap could expand the capabilities of the ecosystem and wearables can be used beyond health and wellness with new levels of proximity and accuracy. Of greater interest is seeing how wearables companies are bringing new and comfortable form factors to the sector, which are much smaller in size. The smart ring is a key example of a wearable device that is set to gain traction among consumers, not only for the healthcare tracking qualities, but also the ease and comfort, and the small size makes the smart rings less obtrusive. Smarter, sleeker, and high-performing wearables with longer battery life and the potential to harness other transformational technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), AI, and big data analysis, will enhance the overall capabilities of the wearables category and its related ecosystem.

Wearable medical devices are also gaining momentum and require a lot of innovation. Remote patient monitoring is one use case where wearable vendors see a promising future. Major Information Technology (IT) firms are focused on patenting their wearable intellectual property. Companies like Apple, Samsung, and Garmin are currently working on high-end wearable devices to provide cutting-edge products to consumers. Bringing new devices to market is challenging, but it is extremely difficult in the healthcare sector because getting software-related patents is a challenge in some parts of the world. Therefore, modifying software for a wearable medical device can make the device patentable. Also, in the medical industry, many medical exclusions are taken into consideration, so companies must rewrite their patent specifications to link them to a specific task that the device will perform.

Vendors are required to make additional improvements when it comes to the accuracy of data. All these processes need continuous innovation and updates, which is not easy to achieve, particularly when approval is invariably needed from health authorities, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA, as an essential part of any update that can take years to ratify. For example, FDA clearance was needed on the Apple Watch and Google Fitbit for their atrial fibrillation capabilities, which helped validate these devices and algorithms for medical measuring and monitoring.

Also, these high-end wearables carry sophisticated sensors with high-end diagnostic equipment inside them to generate real-time data with precision. These real-time data sensors come with an extra cost and wearables with these sensors cost between US$400 and US$500, making medical wearables too expensive for the masses. The sector of people that would benefit the most from these devices are mostly low-income groups and may not be aware of the use cases these wearables can provide. Vendors should, therefore, work alongside government and insurance companies to build an ecosystem to cater to consumers across all social classes to enable proper healthcare monitoring and benefit society at large.


Companies Mentioned