Joel Delman, PDT Strategic Design and Innovation Consultant
Consumer mobile health technology has long been defined by wrist-worn gadgets that track activity, heart rate and sleep patterns. And while many are familiar with physician prescribed devices like glucose and heart monitors, the broad range of applications benefiting from connected technologies has taken mobile health far beyond such early successes, reaching entirely new groups of users with a broad range of needs.
Our team has gathered examples of the most significant new trends in mobile health, painting a vivid picture of the many novel areas of opportunity in this space. And as a premier consultancy in the design and engineering of complex electronic devices for the healthcare, consumer and defense markets, we would be happy to discuss your next program or help define where your product line should be heading.
Since the DaVinci surgical system was approved by the FDA in 2000, robotics have become an accepted part of modern healthcare. But 2016 may mark the year that experiments with robot "companions" make the leap from curiosity to commonplace.
From Hasbro's new Joy for All companion pets - a serious attempt to provide the elderly with the comfort and calming benefits of a real pet - to more advanced monitoring and therapeutic systems like the Japanese Paro and other companion bots - the benefits of portable electronics aimed at health and wellness can far exceed a rubber strap on your wrist.
Doctors have long known that getting a look, listen, or physical sample of cells from within our bodies is often the most effective way to diagnose an ailment or monitor a condition. Unfortunately, the complications and cost related to doing that are significant concerns, but that's all about to change.
Miniaturized medical tools to effortlessly deliver cameras, pharmaceuticals or sensors just where they're needed are no longer the stuff of science fiction films... It may be a good time to watch the 1966 classic Fantastic Voyage before the remake comes out next year.
While mobile health is just starting to revolutionize internal medicine, the more mature market for health and wellness focused wearables continues to transition from watch straps to full-blown functional jewelry and clothing. Formerly clunky devices that screamed "geek" are becoming statement pieces people are excited to be seen with, and a digital update to the classic 70's Mood Ring is a clear sign the technology is appealing to a wider demographic than gadget fans.
Don't have a daily hydration goal? Seriously, get with the program... Smart bottles are the first wave of "low tech" devices aimed at making people live healthier, but we envision a variety of analogous products that sense volume, weight or nutritional values which help guide consumers' eating and drinking habits for the better.
In addition to new technologies, the mobile health and wellness market is expanding through a broader perspective on the benefits these devices can offer. And what could be more fundamental to health than personal safety? From keeping track of your kids to countering sexual assault, things have come a long way since "I've fallen and I can't get up."
While the benefits of mobile health are obvious, these new technologies' ability to heighten our sense of fear, and promote an environmnet in which our lives nad children may be "overmonitored," is a real concern. An appropriate balance will naturally find its way into the developing Ecosystem, and we look forward to developers pushing boundaries into areas where new opportunity for tech equates to Genuine value for consumers.
The ultimate Mobile health device is one that becomes part of your body. Circuit boards embedded on skin and wirelessly enabled contact lenses may have been science fiction just a few years ago, but with over 1 of every 5 adults in the US sporting at least one tattoo (and nearly 40% in the critical 18 to 29 demographic), it's not surprising that the era of body-born devices and "tech tattoos" has truly arrived.