What happened in Vegas: CES 2019 Healthcare Round-up
During its 51-year history the Consumer Electronics Show has mirrored the growing influence and fascination in technology in the products that surround us.
Whilst “consumer” products, such as TVs, phones, and voice assistants from the big players including Samsung, Sony, Google and Amazon continue to be the focus of attention, the growing prevalence of healthcare products seen in recent years, continued at this year’s show.
With the dust now settled on CES 2019, we take a look at key themes and notable products in health and wellbeing…
With increasing focus on selfcare and preventative health, a range of wearable monitors were profiled. Healthtech heavyweight Withings caught the eye with its new Move ECG smartwatch-format monitor. The system provides an electrocardiogram on demand by the wearer placing their fingers on the watch for 20 seconds, with the goal of early detection of Atrial fibrillation, helping to prevent strokes and heart attacks. It’s relatively low retail price of $130 should provide serious competition for Apple Watch.
French startup Chronolife showcased its smart vest which monitors ECG along with breathing, skin temperature and pulmonary impudence to help provide preventative solutions for at-risk cardiac patients. Withings new BPM Core smart blood pressure cuff also features ECG functionality, although news that Omron’s HeartGuide wearable wrist blood pressure cuff received FDA clearance in December may well signal a new era in on-the-go blood pressure monitoring. With a discreet “cuff” located in the wristband, this product format could be a game-changer in preventative health by providing regular ambulatory blood pressure testing.
The show saw some interesting leading-edge innovation using breath sensing which offers potential benefits to dietary control and conditions such as diabetes. Indiegogo funded startup Lumen showcased their device and connected app which analyses exhaled breath to provide tailored nutritional advice based on how the body metabolises carbohydrates and fats.
New York startup Foodmarble also launched their AIRE device, which tests hydrogen levels in breath to provide insights on digestion and food intolerances. Most radical of all, was Aerbetic’s non-invasive diabetes alert wearable. Worn as a bracelet, clip-on or pendant, the device claims to detect and analyse the wearer’s ambient “cloud” of exhaled breath to identify hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic events, providing alerts and learned trends over time via a companion app. Launch is promised in 2019.
Sleep quality and therapies continue to provide a pipeline of innovation and new product offers. Examples include Dreem‘s headband which monitors EEG and movement to analyse sleep quality, but also provides a range of bespoke sound signals, via bone conduction, to help manage sleep and wellbeing.
The Somnox huggable sleep robot attracted a lot of attention and claims to provide cognitive breathing training helping to improve sleep quality. Japanese nursery product company Nanit introduced its new smart baby monitor and associated wearable fabric patterns which use vision technology to track and analyse breathing and movement, sending visuals and alerts to the parent’s app.
Living Longer Better
With CES’s profile providing a natural focus on early adopters’ interest in new technology, it was pleasing to see the needs of an increasingly older demographic reflected in several products. Notable here was Stanley Black & Decker’s entry into the healthcare market, Stanley Healthcare, offering a range of elderly care solutions for hospital, care homes and at-home settings. This reflects a growing trend of consumer brands actively looking to move into healthcare. Their offer includes marketing of the Pillo voice-controlled pill dispensing home assistant, rebranded Pria, providing therapy reminders, health information, and companionship.
DFree’s toilet timing prediction device, which uses ultrasound technology to monitor the filling of the bladder is a great example of technology applied to address an unglamorous user need, but which provides dignity and confidence to people suffering with incontinence.
In the healthcare space, Samsung’s considerable resources were directed at robot assistants. Their three home assistant bots were designed to steal the show, and included Bot Care, intended for monitoring, diagnostics and companionship for elderly at-home care. Its GEMS (Gait Enhancing and Motivation System) exoskeleton products (ankle, hip and knee versions were showcased at CES) are not currently overtly targeted at the assisted living market, but as the technology and availability develops, application to physiotherapy and enhanced mobility for older people, seems a likely key use case.
Voice, Privacy and Security
Finally, voice assistants and associated considerations of privacy and security provided much of the over-riding theme of this year’s show, with key CES absentee Apple casting a shadow over Google and Amazon’s parade with its cleverly provocative Vegas-themed “What happens on your phone, stays on your phone” billboard.
With privacy and security issues bringing particular challenges in relation to healthcare data, it was interesting to see the emergence of providers such as Snips, facilitating offline voice control technology for OEM integration. We look forward to seeing whether these privacy-robust voice solutions may prove to be more attractive to medical devices manufacturers than adopting Google or Alexa platforms.