Tech companies had used CES in previous years to introduce fitness and health gadgets, like step counters and smart watches, leading to Fitbits and Apple Watches. At CES 2018 healthcare was one of the main areas of interest, but the focus had shifted away from exercise to overall health and wellness.
Products introduced catered not only to runners or keen gym goers, but aimed to provide healthcare assistance, reassurance, and independent living to patients, as well as those in the disability community.
Amongst the innovations this year was a fingernail-sized sensor by L’Oreal that helps track sun exposure to prevent skin cancel. A handheld device by Nima that detects traces of peanuts by scanning food for those with nut allergies. A robotic glove from NeoMano, which helps people suffering from paralysis due to a spinal cord injury perform everyday tasks using their hands. Smart socks designed by Siren, utilising temperature sensors to detect inflammation in real time for diabetics. And a robot duck from Aflac, designed to provide emotional support for children with cancer. Both the Siren socks and the Aflac duck even winning awards in the overall category of ‘Best of Innovations’ at the conference.
Smartphones also continued to play a part in health monitoring and reporting, especially in the wake of recent surveys indicating that cancer patients in particular can enjoy longer life expectations by tracking their healthcare treatment on a computer. Looking at specific apps for smartphone users, the most popular ones under the “Health & Fitness” category still revolve around fitness and exercise, but there is presence of health-focused ones amongst them.
Currently, heart monitoring and diet apps for those with specific health conditions (e.g. gluten intolerance) feature in the most downloaded apps with a potential to grow further: a recent survey by Bryter shows that at least two thirds of people find the idea of an app for people with chronic diseases to be appealing (66% of those with arthritis or diabetes and 71% of those with a heart condition).
Healthcare was also the theme of this year’s Next Big Thing panel at CES 2018, marking a change from previous years where innovative items were usually targeted at younger, early-adopter-type consumers. But with an aging population, health tech is quickly emerging as a lucrative area for tech companies to cater to.