Wearable devices are becoming increasingly integrated into all aspects of life. There are activity trackers, heart, temperature and sleep monitors, smart glasses and clothing, and a variety of devices tracking significant or somewhat obscure parameters. While the market has been heavily dominated by fitness and activity users, companies are trying to better understand consumer habits and are exploring device monetization outside of the traditional user. The potential value of these wearables lies in the algorithms and predicative analytics which can turn the pile of data into something that has meaningful use to the individual and healthcare professional.
There is a common occurrence where individuals will spend more time and money for those they care about than perhaps themselves. While a person may not be interested in monitoring their own heart rate, they may insist their parent who has an arrhythmia to use a wearable device to track and analyze how frequently their heart rate increases. This market is quickly growing, with products being designed for a user’s pet, child or aging parent. This article will discuss pediatric health, with future posts on animal and aging parent wearables.
The era of the quantified child has been gaining traction, with traditional one-way analog audio baby monitors becoming obsolete objects only found online. They have evolved into sophisticated devices that include video, movement, position, temperature, light, noise, pulse oximetry, and even predicative analytics to determine when a child will wake up from a nap. Products like Sproutling, Owlet, and Mimo may be overkill for many parents, but for those with multiple or sick babies, these real-time monitors could be a life saver. The sheer volume of data provided from these pediatric wearables could revolutionize the traditional child-rearing paradigm, changing how the next generation will care for their growing infants.
However, this does not go to say that these devices are secure or replace parental observation and care. Security is a major concern with an increasing number of reports on baby monitors being hacked. There have been instances where parents have found outside parties listening, watching and even talking to their children when they were not in the room. The amount of data that is constantly available on smart devices can also be overwhelming for many parents, creating anxiety for non-threatening matters like rolling over or one degree temperature changes. The intended benefit of these devices is to relieve parental anxiety, but as with most wearables, success depends on personal preference and the desire to have additional information.
To find other articles written by Tara or learn more about this topic, check out Frost & Sullivan “Wearables: Beyond the Quantified Self – Opportunities in Pediatric and Animal Health”