Report: 5 percent of consumer medical devices are wireless

By Brian Dolan
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Bluetooth SmartAccording to a recent study by IMS Research, by 2016 more wireless enabled consumer medical devices will use Bluetooth Smart than any other wireless technology. Bluetooth Smart is the newest flavor of the technology. IMS predicts that 4.7 million Bluetooth Smart-enabled consumer medical devices will ship in 2016 and some 10.3 million will ship between now and then.

Overall, more than 35 percent of wireless-enabled consumer medical devices will leverage Bluetooth Smart in 2016. This year just 5 percent of consumer medical devices will have the ability to make some kind of wireless connection, according to IMS. By 2016 that number will only climb to 9 percent of consumer medical devices. IMS expects ANT technology to also have its own supporters: About 500,000 ANT-enabled consumer medical devices will ship in 2016.

Right now most wireless connections in consumer medical devices use classic Bluetooth or a proprietary wireless technology that enables them to connect short range to a home health hub or a mobile phone. IMS believes the power needs of classic Bluetooth will drive device makers to Bluetooth Smart, which has lower power consumption. Because of regulatory concerns, IMS does not expect the transition from classic Bluetooth to Bluetooth Smart to be a quick one.

For more on IMS Research's Bluetooth Smart report, read the press release below:

PRESS RELEASE: Wellingborough, UK - 25 June 2012 - IMS Research (recently acquired by IHS Inc. (NYSE:IHS)) projects that by 2016, wireless-enabled consumer medical devices will use Bluetooth Smart technology the most. IMS Research forecasts that more than 4.7 million consumer medical devices containing Bluetooth Smart will be shipped in 2016 with more than 10.3 million shipped from 2012 to 2016.

According to IMS Research’s recently published study “Wireless Opportunities in Health and Wellness Monitoring – 2012 Edition,” more than 35 percent of wireless-enabled consumer medical devices shipped in 2016 will contain Bluetooth Smart. In 2012, five percent of consumer medical devices shipped will be able to make wireless connection; in 2016, it will be nine percent. IMS Research projects that ANT technology will also be available, with more than one-half million ANT-enabled consumer medical devices shipped in 2016.

IMS Research Senior Analyst Lisa Arrowsmith comments that, “one big reason for Bluetooth Smart being used in consumer medical devices is the projected increase in Bluetooth Smart Ready devices, most notably in cellular handsets. IMS Research believes that by 2015, all phones that would have been enabled with Bluetooth will be Bluetooth Smart Ready. These devices can give consumer medical devices additional functionality such as uploading medical information to apps and cloud-based services, as well as other features such as an advanced display. While ANT has also been adopted in some cellular handsets, it is not expected to reach the same levels of adoption as Bluetooth which will its uptake in some consumer medical devices.”

Currently, most wireless-enabled consumer medical devices are using either Classic Bluetooth or proprietary wireless technology to communicate with specific devices such as dedicated health hubs or cellular handsets. For consumer medical devices using Classic Bluetooth, power consumption is always a key factor since most of these devices use batteries. Bluetooth Smart will offer the same levels of connectivity while also offering lower power consumption. However, even with this benefit, it is unlikely that medical OEMs will move over from Classic Bluetooth to Bluetooth Smart quickly because of the long design cycles that are commonplace, resulting from the strict regulations placed on medical devices.

“Although Bluetooth Smart can offer significant benefits in terms of power consumption and usability for consumer medical devices, OEMs are reluctant to move over to the technology with any great pace,” Arrowsmith adds. “Most will continue to support Classic Bluetooth while releasing a Bluetooth Smart model in line with their existing design schedules. The cost of certification and regulatory approval is also another factor that will slow down the uptake of Bluetooth Smart in consumer medical devices as design cycles remain long, with 12-18 months on average for a new medical device to be approved and available to consumers.”

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 in three major regions (Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific). This report was published in March 2012.

About the “Wireless Opportunities in Health and Wellness Monitoring – 2012 Edition” report

IMS Research’s latest report “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 in three major regions (Americas, EMEA, and Asia-Pacific). This report was published in March 2012.

About IHS

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

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.