One of the key enabling technologies for the wireless health market is wireless sensors — BandAid-like, peel-and-stick biometric sensors that also include low-power, short range wireless radios. Similar sensors may be implantable or embedded in our sneakers like Nike+. Examples of the peel-and-stick variety include the calorie tracking sensor that Philometron is developing, the EEG sensor from sleep monitoring start-up NeuroVigil or the intelligent medicine sensor from Proteus Biomedical.
Currently, each of these companies’ offerings are not on the consumer market. Philometron has kept mum on any partners it may have, NeuroVigil just announced a clinical trials agreement with Roche and Proteus Biomedical is working with Novartis in clinical trials. Wireless health sensors are a clinical play today, but in the next five years they may be as commonly used as smartphones, at least according to one prediction:
Qualcomm’s Senior Director of Market Development Clint McClellan asked attendees at the Foundation for the NIH’s mHealth Summit last week in Washington D.C. how many of them used their phones to check their email or surf the Internet — a majority raised their hands. McClellan then predicted that in five years a majority of them will have used wireless health sensors: They may be from Jenny Craig, Nike or from your doctor, he said.
ABI Research believes McClellan is spot on: By 2014 the research firm believes there will be 400 million wireless sensors in the market.
“These are very early days for wearable wireless sensors in the healthcare market, but a number of factors are coming together to support strong growth over the next five years,” principal ABI analyst Jonathan Collins stated in a company press release earlier this year. “Technology and product development, wireless protocol standardization, and the potential already seen in sports and fitness monitoring will help drive investment in the healthcare market.”