The Nike+ Fuel Band
According to ABI research, nearly 30 million "wireless wearable health devices" were shipped in 2012, a 37 percent growth from 2011. Jonathan Collins, lead analyst on the study, told MobiHealthNews that the report only looked at devices worn on the body (nothing subdermal), with some form of wireless connectivity, and related in some way to monitoring health.
The 30 million figure, up from 20.77 million in 2011, is just a little behind ABI's February predictions, when the firm predicted that between 2011 and 2017, the market would grow at an average rate of 41 percent per year, leading to 169.5 million devices shipped in 2017.
Currently, ABI predicts an annual average growth rate of just under 40 percent, which will lead to 160 million devices shipped in 2017. Collins said that the slight adjustment is not a reflection on the fitness side of the wearables market, which is continuing apace, but rather because of smaller-than-anticipated adoption of medical wearables.
In 2017, according to ABI, 60 percent of the devices sold will be fitness trackers and 23 percent will be home monitoring technology for aging in place seniors. Seven percent will be devices for remote patient monitoring, with another 7 percent for point of care healthcare use.
Collins said that consumer-oriented sports and fitness trackers were the main driver of the continued growth, particularly those made by incumbent device companies like Polar, Garmin, Nike and Adidas.
"The established players are still shipping the most devices," he said. "We haven't seen the startups get anywhere near those numbers."
The big trend driving wireless wearable trackers this year is the ubiquity of Bluetooth connectivity, according to Collins. He said ABI has been tracking a slow build in the market over the last four years, but the rise of low-power, wireless communication, as well as the market working through some regulatory ambiguities, has led to a big boom in 2011 and 2012, which he predicts will continue.
"There is an incredible flow of ideas coming into this market," said Collins. He predicts that as the market develops, there will be more tracker integration with social media, more corporations will invest in trackers for employee health and that the professional medical markets will continue to grow.