Wearable AI and its Rising Participation in the Healthcare Industry
Sat, April 10, 2021

Wearable AI and its Rising Participation in the Healthcare Industry

Wearables, just like other technologies, are also continuing to evolve / Photo Credit: lenetstan VIA 123RF


Wearables are everywhere—from basic fitness trackers and highly advanced smartwatches to virtual and augmented reality headsets. One of the fastest-advancing sectors of modern technology, wearable tech is even outpacing the development of smartphones. Using Bluetooth to sync wirelessly to a smartphone, wearables use sensors to track a person’s movements and biometrics, helping them to achieve their goals such as losing weight, staying fit and active, or tracking overall physical and mental health. 

Wearables, just like other technologies, have also evolved. Before, these devices were clipped to our bodies to track movements using motion sensors. Now, wearables are directly connected to the skin for a more accurate reading, which was made possible by the advancements of a wide-range of powerful sensors. The tech is now attached to different body parts such as the chest, fingers, wrist, forearms, ears, eyes, forehead, and temples depending on their function. 

Since wearable tech was introduced, more than 325 million devices have been activated across the world. BrandonGaille.com, an online site that features small business articles on marketing, design, finance, and employees, reported that there could be more than 830 million devices active due to this industry by 2020. It is projected that the global wearable AI devices market will reach $49,240.6 million by 2024. In 2018, the revenues of wearable technology totaled $3.09 billion. 

The report also showed that in 2014, consumer wearable revenues were $2.2 billion. It further grew during the succeeding years: $3.8 billion in 2015, $5.8 billion in 2016, $6.8 billion in 2017, $8.8 billion in 2018, and $9.7 billion so far in 2019. According to GlobalNewsWire, one of the world's largest newswire distribution networks, some of the key factors to this growth include the advancements of wearable technology, rising per capita income, growing adoption of AI-supported wearables among consumers, and increasing focus toward a healthy lifestyle.



AI-Enabled Wearables in Healthcare

Typically, wearables collect a person’s health data, monitor it, and interact with users. At the same time, the devices provide timely information on many health parameters to the users. With the help of artificial intelligence, wearables can elevate their services and functions even further. For instance, Google created an AI-powered diabetic’s eye disease detection device. Its algorithm learns and performs a particular task by repetition and self-correction. 

Another example is the advanced wearable for blind people that can detect obstacles on a user’s path using ultrasounds. It will then notify the person about it so they can safely navigate around the object.

With advancements and the increasing popularity of wearable tech, the unprecedented growth of the wearable AI market comes as no surprise. Research firm Global Market Insights reported that the wearable AI market will reach $180 billion by 2025. According to IoT Now, the leading global magazine and online news source covering machine-to-machine communications in a whole host of industry verticals, the key factors in propelling the growth of the market include technological advancement in miniaturized electronics and mobile access to computational power. 

This led to the development of many advanced wearable sensory hardware that offers health monitoring platforms that are less intrusive and provides users with a means to improve early-stage detection of diseases. This also reduces the overall costs associated with more intrusive standard diagnostic services.

With the help of AI and machine learning, wearables now contain data points from several medical sources, including journals, manuals, and public health data to emulate a doctor’s knowledge. The machine learning system then generates a clinical model of a patient upon adding their specific data. When the system detects an abnormality, the patient is referred to a physician or even an AI doctor, which is made up of neural networks with deep learning algorithms that can detect ailments faster than an actual medical professional can. 

AI in wearables is making the task for both patients and doctors in making informed choices and assisting remote tracking, precautions, and remote diagnostics a lot easier. 


Wearables typically collect a person’s health data, monitor it, and interact with users / Photo Credit: everythingpossible VIA 123RF


Predicting the Onset of Health Problems

A 2018 study conducted by researchers from the University of Waterloo showed how wearable AI can be a potential game-changer for healthcare. It turns data into predictive knowledge to help healthcare professionals better understand an individual's health, which has a significant impact on the quality of life and well-being. 

According to Science Daily, an American website that aggregates press releases and publishes lightly edited press releases about science, the team monitored active, healthy men in their 20s. They were instructed to wear a shirt that had sensors for heart rate, breathing, and acceleration for four days that they then compared with laboratory responses. They discovered that it was possible to accurately predict health-related benchmarks during daily activities using only the smart shirt. 

"The research found a way to process biological signals and generate a meaningful single number to track fitness," co-author Richard Hughson said. 

The researchers concluded that applying AI to the right combination of data retrieved from wearable technology lets the device detect when a person’s health is failing. "In the near future, we believe it will be possible to continuously check your health, even before you realize that you need medical help,” lead author Thomas Beltrame said.