Wearable technology in the form of fitness trackers has been used almost exclusively for fitness purposes to date. However, it is now being driven by the increasing demand of consumers to monitor their health. The integration of wearable tech continues. Augmented reality (AR), Big Data, artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud computing solutions are gaining in importance. Also, the falling prices of sensors, open-source application programming interfaces (APIs), frameworks, and libraries, are enabling faster and more cost-effective solutions within the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem.
The leading companies making fitness trackers for healthcare, as identified by GlobalData, are listed below.
Fitbit is a pioneer in the wearable technologies domain. They offer a range of connected health and fitness devices. These include fitness and smartwatches, wristbands, activity trackers, and wireless headphones. The company offers a personalised online dashboard and mobile apps that sync automatically with and display real-time data from wearable devices. The Fitbit platform also offers social features, such as access to an online community of users, leader boards, and challenges. This allows users to receive and provide support and engage in friendly competitions.
The company’s NFC-based payments service platform, Fitbit Pay, enables users to pay via credit or debit card through supported Fitbit smartwatches. FitBit recently announced its push into the smartwatch market. This came after seeing a 70% revenue growth in its Health Solutions program, which primarily caters to employers and payers.
Samsung’s wearable portfolio includes smartwatches, smart fitness trackers, and VR headsets. Their initial wearable devices were developed in association with other firms. Collaborations included Samsung Gear VR with Oculus VR and Samsung Gear with Google. However, the company gradually took control of the subsequent developments. Samsung eventually replaced the Android Wear OS with its own Linux-based Tizen OS and initiated developing its Exynos SoC microprocessors for its smartwatches.
The company develops both software and hardware for VR devices all by itself. Samsung has also expanded into the hearables segment with the Samsung Gear IconX, which is currently in the second generation. Realising the growth potential of wearables, Samsung is aggressively positioning its smartwatches in enterprise applications. It is also taking strides in smart clothes, a much less crowded segment that is gradually gaining market traction. The company stands as a leading wearables vendor in the Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East and Africa.
Garmin offers a range of products designed for use in fitness and activity tracking. The company’s fitness trackers and ruggedised GPS smartwatches are marketed worldwide. However, its major clientele is located across North America, Europe, and the Middle East and Africa. Following the strategies of its peers, Garmin introduced the wearables payment platform Garmin Pay, and LTE enabled smartwatches. The company also offers Garmin Connect and Garmin Connect Mobile platforms. These enable users to track, analyse, and share their fitness and wellness data, and compete with community members.
Xiaomi, often referred to as “the Apple of China”, is the leading wearables vendor in China. It holds strong command in a number of matured markets, including the US. The company procures wearable devices, especially smartwatches, from its exclusive technology partner, Huami. Its offerings also include the Mi Band fitness trackers, which accounted for approximately one-quarter of the company’s shipments in Q4 2018.
The company is known for delivering high-tech devices at low prices. Xiaomi’s rapid growth in the domestic Chinese market also challenges the dominance of Huawei. Xiaomi is set to introduce new wearables in 2019. These are likely to feature Huami’s new Huangshan -1 chip that is capable of screening the heart rate patterns of users via cloud-based AI.
NIKE is a manufacturer of sporting goods, including wearables that track physiological parameters.
This is an edited extract from the Wearable Technology in Healthcare – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.