Prediction: Wearables to lead the 515 million sensors to ship in 2017

By Jonah Comstock
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Research firm ON World released new data from its mobile health and wellness sensor reports, which predicts that in 2017, 515 million sensors for wearable, implantable or mobile health and fitness devices will be shipped globally, up from 107 million in 2012.

ON WorldIn March, the firm predicted 18.2 million health and wellness wireless sensor networks would ship in 2017. That number excluded sports and fitness devices, and each network can include up to hundreds of individual sensors, which accounts for the difference between the figures, Mareca Hatler, ON World's research director, explained to MobiHealthNews in an email.

"Advances in low power wireless communications, MEMS and multi-sensor arrays have resulted in viable body area network applications for clinical patient monitoring, assisted care, at-home chronic disease management and general wellness," Hatler said in a statement. "At the same time, there has been enormous growth for mobile sensing apps for smartphones and tablets."

ON World reported that 60 percent of the 200 mobile sensing products the firm evaluated for their report were launched in 2012 or later. Cardiac sensors made up 22 percent of the products they looked at, and another 21 percent were other healthcare sensors, including blood glucose sensors and vital sign monitors.

According to ON World, one growing area will be implantable sensors, particularly for monitoring diabetes.

"Breakthrough implantable sensor technology will be one of the fastest growing markets," the firm said in their press release, "where blood glucose sensors with multi-month lifetimes will change the lives of diabetics and lower overall healthcare costs."

But wearable sensors will be by far the largest category. Between 2012 and 2017, the firm predicted, the number of wearable health and fitness sensors will increase by 552 percent. By 2017, wearables will make up 80 percent of the "mobile sensing health and fitness device" market. That figure includes smartwatches, which ON World believes 48 percent of consumers will primarily use for health and fitness.