SMART FABRIC forecasts that by 2019, total shipments of wearable devices worldwide will reach 214.6 million units, resulting in a five-year compound annual growth rate of 28%. The market is thriving. Looking forward, I asked myself, how will the technology itself grow and how will it impact evolving industries like healthcare?
3D-printed clothing will continue to look a whole lot more like an art project than an actual industry. Meanwhile, other aspects of apparel, such as jewelry and athletic wear, are taking to 3D printing with much greater success.
3D Printing Materials Market Expected Up to $868.0 Million in 2018
Wearable devices are a piece of the cost-savings pie that helps the healthcare industry (both health insurance companies and hospitals alike) change the behavior within consumers to make them more aware of their health, which in turn, will keep them healthy and out of the hospital. These are a few reasons why the healthcare industry has a vested interested in and is investing heavily in wearable devices.
So how can this technology, that is advanced in itself, become even more revolutionary? The leader of the pack is smart fabric – the hot new trend in wearable technology.
The possibilities are endless
There are countless ways smart fabrics can impact healthcare, from wound care to keeping athletes healthier by analyzing data collected from their sweat. I found the most fascinating innovation in the works to be smart hospital gowns. Imagine if hospital gowns could monitor heart rate, pulse rate and blood pressure instead of a patient having to endure painful IVs for extended periods of time? What if these gowns could be customized for a person’s specific needs such as cardiac patients or pregnant women? Or what if these gowns could release medicine into the skin of a patient? (Laura Gargolinski, 2016)