Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Enthusiasm for wearables to spur growth in health device market: IHS

Iain Morris
August 6, 2014
Shipments of wireless semiconductors designed for health and fitness devices are expected to reach 61.2 million units in 2014, up from 55 million in 2013, according to the latest research from IHS Technology.

By 2018, some 95.78 million units will be shipped, according to the research, as consumers embrace emerging wearable technologies allowing them to track and analyze personal health data.

Falling component costs, growing health concerns among older people and the rising use of remote healthcare systems are also expected to spur growth.

The forecasts include the sports and fitness segment as well as the adjacent market for health and wellness.

Although there are overlaps between the two, HIS notes that data and activity sharing by wireless means is more common in sports and fitness, as users happily disclose the results of improving fitness levels.

In contrast, disease management is largely private and carefully guarded by affected individuals.

Research also indicates that Bluetooth technology is emerging as a popular means of providing connectivity in the fitness market.

“Because most health and fitness devices are mobile, wireless connectivity is important,” said Lee Ratliff, principal analyst for connectivity at IHS. “And because these wireless mobile devices are in most cases also wearable and thus require a small form-factor, they cannot be power hogs and must support low-energy consumption to have the best chance of succeeding in the consumer market.”
Wireless connectivity is often used to provide links to remote sensors when wired is too cumbersome, but it can also be used for data uploading – with connectivity employed to upload fitness and performance data to PCs, smartphones and tablets.

IHS reckons that Bluetooth Smart is the most successful of the various wireless technologies now available on the market for health and fitness.

The technology is the only major low-power technology able to communicate with all the chief mobile platforms, including Apple iOS, Google Android, Microsoft Windows 8 and the BlackBerry operating system, according to the market-research company.
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