It seems more and more firms are investing in fitness apps and devices as the International CES (formally the Consumer Electronics Show) has seen a sharp increase in health-related displays. Typically the realm of 3D televisions, the latest gaming consoles and Internet-connected cars, this year 40 percent more floor-space has been dedicated to digital health exhibitors than in 2013.
Of the 3,300 companies exhibiting at the conference, starting on January 7, about 300 are focused on digital health, said Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association. With the digital health market predicted to quadruple by 2018, companies are increasingly keen to get a slice of the action.
Wearable fitness monitors and health apps, connected to sensors in the home and software to tie all the information together are becoming very popular as people seek to combine taking care of themselves with their increasingly digital lives.
Samir Damani, a practicing cardiologist, founded MD Revolution with the aim of satisfying the demand for health apps. He started the company in 2011 when he realised he could limit the number of times a patient needed to visit his clinic by giving them home blood-pressure monitors and getting the results via email.
“We are really moving from a doctor-centric society to a patient-centric society,” Damani said in an interview. “We are trying to give people control.”
Nick Martin, a vice-president in the innovation and research group at insurer UnitedHealth Group cautions against relying too much on health-related gadgets, saying, while the technology can help consumers monitor their activities and improve their habits, it won’t remove the need for traditional care.
“Although a personal wearable device is certainly a trend, it does not necessarily replace good old fashioned face-to-face meetings,” Martin said. “We see it as a way to augment care.”
The digital health and fitness technology market is now starting to gain mainstream adoption. The market will grow to as much as $8 billion in revenue by 2018 from about $2 billion in 2013, according to John Curran, a managing director at Accenture in Seattle.
Image via Ivanmarn (sxc.hu)