Wireless Opportunities in Health and Wellness Monitoring

Bluetooth logo links to Bluetooth SIG websiteBluetooth is a global wireless standard that enables simple connectivity among mobile and medical devices. Version 4.0, with its low energy features for long battery life, is already transforming the healthcare industry, creating efficiencies, and promoting responsible personal health monitoring, as noted in my earlier article, Healthcare meets Bluetooth Low Energy. But the following press release highlights new market research that predicts a …

Slow Road from Classic Bluetooth to Bluetooth Smart in Consumer Medical Devices

“Wireless Opportunities in Health and Wellness Monitoring – 2012 Edition” assesses the uptake of 10 connectivity technologies (Wired, Classic Bluetooth, Bluetooth low energy, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, DECT ULE, ANT, NFC, 5 kHz, and Proprietary & Others) in five consumer health monitoring devices, with addition segmentation between consumer medical devices, and telehealth medical devices (blood pressure monitors, blood glucose monitors, pulse oximeters, implantable devices, and others), five types of dedicated health hub (dedicated/standalone hubs, cellular handsets, PC/Laptop/Tablets, residential gateway, and others), and five sports and fitness monitoring devices (heart rate monitors, pedometers, footpods, speed & distance sensors, and cycling computers). Additional segmentation is also provided for the uptake of consumer health devices across three major regions (Americas, EMEA, and Asia-Pacific).

Wellingborough, 26/07/2012, IMS Research (recently acquired by IHS Inc. (NYSE:IHS)) projects that the transition from Classic Bluetooth to Bluetooth Smart [also called Bluetooth v4.0 or Bluetooth Low Energy] in consumer medical devices will be slow, with 31 percent of all consumer medical devices containing Bluetooth sold in 2016 still using Classic Bluetooth (Version 2.1) as opposed to the latest low-energy variant, Bluetooth Smart (Version 4.0). [69% adoption in 4 years is not bad, in my view. Even if it's slower than ideal, I remain optimistic about Bluetooth's role in telehealth.]

According to the recently published report Wireless Opportunities in Health and Wellness Monitoring – 2012 Edition, this transition will be slow because of high certification costs and strict regulations, which will lengthen the design cycle for companies planning to launch Bluetooth Smart variants of their consumer health devices.

“High certification costs for consumer medical devices, coupled with long design cycles and strict regulation is going to mean companies currently using Classic Bluetooth will continue to do so, while slowly bringing Bluetooth Smart variants to the market over the next five years,” IMS Research Analyst Phillip Maddocks suggests. “As long as customers feel the battery life and reliability of devices using Classic Bluetooth devices are satisfactory, there is no great urgency to switch to Bluetooth low energy.”

Another key factor is the uptake of Bluetooth low energy in connectable devices such as cellular handsets. As penetration of Bluetooth Smart Ready in these devices is still low, manufacturers of consumer medical device manufacturers are less inclined to support a small ecosystem of devices when they can support a much larger ecosystem of devices using Classic Bluetooth. This is forecast to change; since 100 percent of cellular handsets that would typically contain Bluetooth, will be Bluetooth Smart Ready capable by 2016.

“The ecosystem of connectable devices in the consumer market for Bluetooth Smart devices is still very low, with only a handful of devices able to communicate natively with any new Bluetooth Smart devices. This is set to change over the next five years with more and more devices, in particular cellular handsets, adopting Bluetooth Smart Ready technology in place of the traditional Classic Bluetooth technology,” adds Maddocks. By providing a larger ecosystem by 2016, consumer medical device manufacturers can take advantage of Bluetooth Smart’s lower energy requirements, while also being connectable to billions of devices. Until this ecosystem emerges, however, Classic Bluetooth will continue to be used.

IMS Research’s latest report Wireless Opportunities in Health and Wellness Monitoring – 2012 Edition assesses the uptake of 10 connectivity technologies in five consumer health monitoring devices, five types of dedicated health hub, and five sports and fitness monitoring devices. Additional segmentation is also provided for the uptake of consumer health devices across three major regions (Americas, EMEA, and Asia-Pacific). This report was published in March 2012.

For more information:

About IHS (www.ihs.com)

IHS (NYSE: IHS) is the leading source of information, insight and analytics in critical areas that shape today’s business landscape. Businesses and governments in more than 165 countries around the globe rely on the comprehensive content, expert independent analysis and flexible delivery methods of IHS to make high-impact decisions and develop strategies with speed and confidence. IHS has been in business since 1959 and became a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, USA, IHS employs more than 6,000 people in more than 30 countries around the world.

About IMS Research (www.imsresearch.com)

IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS (NYSE: IHS), is a leading supplier of market research and consultancy to over 2500 clients worldwide, including most of the world’s largest technology companies. Established in the UK in 1989, IMS Research now has dedicated analyst teams focused on the factory automation, automotive, communications, computer, consumer, display, financial & ID, LED & lighting, medical, power & energy, solar PV, smart grid and security markets.  Currently publishing over 350 different syndicated report titles each year, these in-depth publications are used by major electronics and industrial companies to assess market trends, solve marketing problems, and improve the efficiency of their businesses.

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