21 August 2019
Some medical wearables are not intelligent enough to make full use of health data from their wearers. Photo:
Some medical wearables are not intelligent enough to make full use of health data from their wearers. Photo:

Are medical wristbands worth the money?

Health is the number one concern for many people, so most are willing to spend on something that will help them stay healthy.

New gadgets such as medical wearables are attracting attention but do they work?

Medical wearables take different forms. Some come as removable smart tattoos similar to body art stickers, except that the former can store data and deliver drugs when necessary. Others are designed as contact lenses, watches, even socks.

Wristbands are the most popular.

They measure body data and store them, so wearers can instantly know their heart rate, blood pressure, blood glucose level, calorie count, even sleep periods. 

These devices make it much easier for people to monitor their health and extract information about their condition which typically can only be done in a clinic.

Research institute Canalys expects shipments of smart wristbands to top eight million units this year. The figure could triple to 23 million units next year and hit 45 million by 2017.

ABI, another research company, said wearable devices mainly designed for medical use could account for up to 20 percent of the wearable electronics market in that time.

In Europe, some insurance companies are giving away smart wristbands to their clients as a way to cut the need for drugs and reduce the likelihood of surgery and hospitalization.

Ultimately, the strategy will help insurance companies minimize compensation costs.

A smart wristband costs about US$15 to a few hundred. Their features and function vary to a large extent.

Low-end wristbands are cheaper and easier to make, which is why many companies have entered the market.

But if you are thinking of investing in medical wristbands, you might want to stay away from most Chinese brands.

Yan Jinyuan, director of Guangdong-based medical equipment maker Biolight, told National Business Daily that most smart wristband makers are only toying with the medical concept.

“In order for these devices to have any medical application, precision is a must. But because of their technological limitations, most makers are unable to meet standards required for medical applications,” Yan said.

Most smart wristbands in the market depend on accelerator sensors to measure bodily activity.

Unfortunately, most of these devices are uncomfortable for the wearer because of their design and the material used.

Also, some have short battery life, rendering them ineffective in continuously monitoring the body.

The biggest flaw is that these devices are not intelligent enough to make full use of data.

Rather than simply knowing how many calories they burn per day, most consumers want a kind health coach that can guide them to better health.

To do that, manufacturers would have to employ professional medical teams and equip them with powerful computing technology.

Again, most Chinese companies are not willing to spend to maket that happen.

– Contact the writer at [email protected]


EJ Insight writer

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