Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Wearable device market growing faster than overall M2M: Orange

Iain Morris
April 30, 2014
Growth in the market for wearable devices that can be used to monitor a user’s heath and fitness continues to outstrip that in the overall M2M industry, according to Emmanuel Routier, the vice president of M2M for French telecoms giant Orange.

In a presentation at last week’s Mobile World Congress in London, Routier said the wearables market is currently growing at a year-on-year rate of 35% – having generated revenues of $1.7 billion in 2012.

Meanwhile, the broader M2M industry is registering a year-on-year growth rate of 24%.

Even so, Routier flagged various challenges the industry faces if it is to make the most of burgeoning interest in the wearables area.

Identifying and working with partners in the healthcare and technology industries will be of paramount importance, he noted.

“We’re not experts in verticals – that’s the job of partners who can add their expertise to our services,” said Routier.

The issue of data privacy is another hurdle for operators addressing the M2M health opportunity, with restrictions on the information are allowed to use in their commercial endeavors.

Routier, however, says Orange (Paris, France) and others may be able to derive value from the analysis of big data in this area, as long as healthcare information is appropriately “anonymized”.

Presenting at the same conference, Chris Gobby, the head of mData for EE (Hatfield, UK) – the UK joint venture Orange has with Germany’s Deutsche Telekom (Bonn) – offered some evidence of the benefits M2M technology has already brought about in the healthcare industry.

EE has, for instance, teamed up with Alere (Stockport, UK) on the deployment in Africa of a remote-diagnostics system for Hepatitis B, which – says Gobby – has led to a sharp reduction in waiting times at healthcare centers from six weeks to just 45 minutes.

Orange rival Telefonica (Madrid, Spain) also featured examples of its M2M work in the health sector, citing the ICOR project it is supporting at the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona.

A service developed by the operator means patients with heart disease can monitor their condition without having to visit healthcare centers.

According to Angel David Garcia Barrio, the head of M2M for Telefonica, patient costs per year have fallen from €13,000 ($18,000) to €5,000 thanks to the use of the remote-monitoring service.
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