Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Healthcare to drive location-enabled device market, says ABI Research

Steve Rogerson
June 29, 2016
New healthcare applications in elderly, dementia and remote patient monitoring will lead to location-enabled health devices breaking two million shipments by 2021, predicts ABI Research.
The report estimates that GPS personal tracking device shipments will more than double by 2021 with a 21 per cent CAGR as the industry shifts away from traditional markets, such as family and pet locator devices.
Non-traditional markets including elderly and health, corporate, and personal asset tracking will embrace ubiquitous indoor and outdoor location technology.
“Traditional markets still attract attention, given the huge total available market, but they remain too fragmented, with no obvious sales and distribution channels,” said Patrick Connolly, principal analyst at ABI Research. “As a result, a number of established companies in this space are being forced to consider new areas to find future growth. When you consider the fact that average healthcare spending is increasing at a time when approximately 30 per cent of US hospitals are losing money, there is an immediate need for technology to remove the inefficiencies of the current market.”
Meanwhile, the lone worker market shows significant acquisition activity, which is leading to an increase in pricing pressures as companies look to buy market share. ABI found this to be a dangerous strategy in a market that would not scale rapidly. But the technology is there to support more stringent legislation, and indoor location will open up new applications and services in corporate.
“We see stronger device shipments in corporate, industrial and personal asset tracking, with a combined total exceeding 25 million by 2021,” said Connolly. “BLE beacons will open up these markets, but we also see a host of other technologies emerging, such as UWB, sensor fusion, magnet field, proprietary wifi and LPWAN. We believe this will spark demand for outdoor technologies like GPS.”
Another report from ABI found that home health monitoring devices were evolving to be more mobile and sensitive to the requirements of elderly, disabled and other vulnerable people who need to feel safe and independent. New devices that work outside the home, as well as connected movement trackers, fall detectors, and medication dispensers, are growing a market that was once limited to at-home personal wmergency response systems (PERS). ABI forecasts home health monitoring device shipments will top 28 million by 2021.

"The potential for a globally expanding elderly demographic drives market investment, as this tech-aware generation wants to age in place rather than go to nursing homes or assisted living facilities," said Stephanie Lawrence, research analyst at ABI Research. "The new, discrete home health monitoring devices are great for the elderly and those with limited mobility, as they allow caretakers to keep an eye on the user without being intrusive."

Until recently, this market remained divided between traditional PERS and newer ambient assisted living (AAL) systems. While PERS systems alert authorities for help in an emergency, AAL systems monitor the general activity of the user, providing alerts to caregivers if behaviour is unusual. They can also include fall detection but would typically only inform relatives or care providers, not a central call station.

PERS providers are increasingly expanding their offerings by adding AAL functionality and including a wider array of connected devices, ranging from medication reminders to smart air quality monitors, to augment the level of care provision into day-to-day management and not just emergency response.

The GreatCall acquisition of AAL provider Lively and its integration of the MyLively offerings demonstrates this. With the expanding market potential, though, vendors also face new design demands.

"Vendors need to focus on what a new aging generation expects from these technologies, which are systems that support independence and safety but also deliver attractive and comfortable designs," said Lawrence. "The market will see large disruption over the next few years as devices are made to be simpler, more stylish and less invasive."