Digital Salutem
27 September 2021

The future of digital health wearables is now

By João Bocas

The future of digital health wearables is now. Digital health is poised to play a significant role in giving patients and doctors alike “something” to show for their efforts. When we asked some of the world’s leading entrepreneurs and CEOs what they expect from medical technology in the next five years, we got an earful about everything from virtual visits to smart pacemakers. Google cofounder Larry Page told the crowd at last month’s WIRED Health event that he considers wearables a gateway drug for medtech innovation. “We’re stuck with what used to be the best system for monitoring vital signs” Page said. “We need something better.”

One of the things I’ve learned working with wearables devices, is that great design doesn’t just happen. It requires hard work, collaboration, lots of prototyping, perseverance, lots of attention to detail. Great design is an iterative process. So for manufacturers who want to be considered in the long term by suppliers for outsourced projects, it’s critical for them to have their design teams dedicated full-time to the business.’

Industrial design is acquiring a greater level of importance within medical device development and commercialization. Design is becoming a key differentiator among products, impacting the success of new offerings everywhere you look–from patient monitoring systems to cutting edge neonatal equipment.

Wearables are a new frontier for brands

Wearables are a new frontier for brands, and a fruitful one. But it’s a crowded one. It will be difficult for brands to try and do everything on their own. Partnering with other companies can give consumers more features, while allowing brands to focus their efforts on the product itself. Most importantly, wearables are yet another platform for marketers to implement their strategy.

Even companies like Under Armour and Jawbone, which have already established themselves as wearable technology companies, are moving beyond the wrist. That’s where designers like Mackey come in; they’re tasked with designing fitness and health tracking accessories not just for the wrist, but also for the ear and neck.

We can see this in the development of Nike’s FuelBand and FitBit’s Flex—products that possess a one-size-fits-all approach to wearable technology. Both focus on the wrist—which is the most obvious place to track health data—but their innovation doesn’t stop here. Through customization and personalization, these brands and others like them can expand and diversify their wearable portfolios for 2014 and beyond.

Wearables will soon incorporate a wide range of fashion choices, from clothing to jewelry. Dexcom G6 is a weigh-loss solution that is integrated into a clip which can be attached to one’s underwear. Weight loss is a vital part of human life, and therefore wearables for this segment have gained importance in the market.

Whether we’re talking watches, earrings, necklaces, wristbands or popular clothing brands, wearables are no longer about popular brands. These devices are now marketed through fashion-focused retail channels, so customers aren’t just buying a device; they’re buying a lifestyle. And the wearable market is responding with fashionable designs and — in some cases — health and heart-rate tracking capabilities.

Demonstrate a high level of generality and scalability

Smart solar panels are placed on the upper portion of the roof. The surface of each panel is equipped with an OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) display panel. When placed together, the OLEDs form a digital screen that can be used to monitor various types of information, such as weather forecasts, electric-supply statuses, electricity usage, and even ads for local businesses. The panels can also be used at night or in overcast weather for design illumination.

Research has already proven that providing caregivers with data on their patients’ sleep routines can help them address common ailments like insomnia—and now, the best wearables are doing just that. Our 2014 winners connect to smart home technologies or remind users to maintain healthy habits, like taking medication at the same time every day.

If you’re creating a product intended to replace a medication, consider the social implications. Choose features that feel natural and intuitive. Make sure the design is unobtrusive and discrete, so your users can wear it without feeling self-conscious. It’s important that the device doesn’t raise any awkward questions—especially if they lead to difficult conversations about sensitive topics like smoking cessation. The last thing you want is for someone to feel even more badly about their condition because of awkwardness or discomfort with wearing a device

The goal is to get people accustomed to having a device on them so they can become blind to it. It’s a process, for sure. But one of the things we did was emphasize that this isn’t a monitor or a warning light—it’s a badge. And it stands for something.

When it comes to the Apple Watch, its fashionableness was well-received—but not until it was viewed in context. For example, in the fashion-oriented New York Fashion Week, the clunky Fitbit became fashionable when paired with designer wear; one fashion writer even called it “the ultimate fashion accessory.” However, when it came to the conspicuous nature of wearing an Apple Watch, fashion writers were hesitant. One fashion website said that wearing an Apple Watch “sends a not-so-subtle message that you’re anxious for others to know you have an Apple Watch,” and fashion designer Zac Posen told

 

We agree that a successful digital healthcare transformation is challenging, but with Digital Salutem everything is possible. Contact us for more relevant details. To find out more about how we can help you with your Digital Healthcare Transformation, Healthcare organizational growth, or Healthcare brand positioning, please get in touch via phone +44 (0) 203 3620421 or via e-mail: info@digitalsalutem.com

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