Earlier this month, the world’s largest consumer technology trade show, the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) took place in Las Vegas. This is the place where all the hot new tech products are announced before they are released to the market. This year’s CES brought us the bionic bird, the Mercedes Benz driverless car, and my favorite (since I don’t have time to decorate my cupcakes), the XYZ 3D Food Printer.
But I noticed when reviewing the list of over 3,600 CES exhibitors (see 2015 International CES® Exhibitor Listing) was that among the many drone, 3-D printing, and smart car technologies at CES, there were a lot of health and human service technologies this year – lots of wearables, smart home accessories, and virtual reality tech tools. What are those emerging new tools? Here is just a sample:
Melomind – This wearable device from myBrain has electrodes that measure your brain waves just like an electroencephalogram (EEG), and then transmits that data through an app that determines which “relaxing” music to play in response (see Need Help Relaxing? Put The Wacky-Looking Melomind On Your Head). It is expected to be on sale by the end of the year.
Thync – This wearable device is devoted to mood control, and uses “neurosignaling algorithms-waveforms that signal neural pathways…to activate specific parts of the brain to achieve a desired mood state” (see Mood-Changing Neurowearable Thync Can Help You Chillax Or Conquer The World). The price and release dates are currently unavailable.
Quell – This over-the-counter medical device uses transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) technology to signal your brain to release pain-relieving opioids. The device can be used to help patients with conditions such as sciatica, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia (see Quell Hacks Your Brain To Relieve Chronic Pain). It will be available some time in 2015.
Muse – This headband was developed for “guided meditation,” by analyzing brain waves and then playing pre-programed sounds to help you relax. It can also connect to your smart phone via Bluetooth, guide you through attention training, and track your progress with the Muse app (see Muse: The Brain Sensing Headband).
What struck me about the list of health-related CES exhibitors was the focus on devices for “mood management”, and the direct-to-consumer approach. Both factors are game-changers in the health care space. Whether or not these particular devices move from concept, to commercialization, to acceptance remains to be seen. But what we do know is that investment in this space will continue. Last year, the Obama administration kicked off the BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) with the first $100 million in funding (see President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Includes $100 Million To Launch The BRAIN Initiative). And private equity has a big stake in health technology, with $2.8 billion raised in 2013, and 347 companies raising $5 billion in investment capital for digital health products in the first three quarters of 2014 (for more, see StartUp Health Insights: Digital Health Funding Rankings Q3 2014). It is small wonder that analysts are forecasting an increase in the size of the market (see Mobile Health Device Market Valued At $5.1 Billion In 2013; Estimated To Reach $41.8 Billion By 2023).
The challenge for the successful adoption of these technologies are many. I see integration into the health care service delivery system and consumer engagement in continued use, as two critical factors. Watch our future coverage of emerging innovations in serving consumers with complex needs. And if your organization is trying to decide what technologies provide value to your consumers and competitive advantage to your organization, forget the sizzle factor, stay focused, and check out my briefing Everything An Executive Needs To Build A Successful Tech Strategy: An Executive CEO Roundtable Discussion, at last year’s OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute.