As the now nascent smart footwear market begins to develop, ABI Research forecasts tremendous growth in its future, driven by mHealth applications. Overall, unit shipments will rise to more than 6 million in 2021 from just 300,000 in 2016, an 82% CAGR. By supporting sensors within shoes or smart socks, home monitoring and remote patient management applications can track a host of valuable parameters with minimal disruption to those being monitored.
“The growing elderly population is driving change in the way healthcare can and will be provided, and remote monitoring is one aspect of the mHealth industry that can cut costs and improve care,” says Stephanie Lawrence, Research Analyst at ABI Research. “New home and remote patient monitoring smart footwear devices grant healthcare providers 24/7 access to in-depth, real-time health updates concerning their patients’ posture and gait. Such detailed reporting used to be constricted to a hospital bed; now healthcare providers can paint a fuller picture of their patient’s health outside of the hospital, ultimately allowing them to better monitor ongoing issues and make more accurate diagnoses.”
Home monitoring device and system providers target a wide age demographic, from babies and children to the elderly. The Owlet Smart Sock, for instance, features pulse oximetry technology and monitors the heart rate and oxygen levels of an infant to reduce the chances of a fatality. Other devices, such as GTX Corp’s GPS SmartSole, consist of insoles that use GPS and cellular connectivity, ideal for tracking an elderly person’s location and capable of sending alerts to caregivers if the patient wanders off.
For remote patient monitoring, companies are already turning to smart footwear as a form factor to support diagnostic medical data collection. This includes companies like Plantiga, FeetMe, and Orpyx. For instance, diabetic patients are at risk for peripheral neuropathy, or sensory loss, and often cannot detect dangerous pressure levels in their bodies. Orpyx’s SurroSense RX has insoles that use sensors to detect the amount of pressure that a person places on each part of the foot. The device can then alert the user and his/her doctor to any issues.
“In order to gain adequate market share, rising vendors in the smart footwear market need to develop devices that can detect exactly how a person is walking, and provide accurate feedback concerning any issues,” concludes Lawrence. “This will ensure that healthcare workers receive detailed health information about their patients, and will allow the smart footwear market to continue to advance and grow significantly.”
The findings are from ABI Research’s Smart Footwear Technologies and Applications report.
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